Mandatory Saskatchewan farm trucker training planned

The training exemption offered in Saskatchewan for semi truck drivers in agriculture operations is now set to be phased out within two years, the province said Wednesday.

The provincial government in late 2018 announced it will require a minimum of 121.5 hours of training before a driver can obtain a Class 1 commercial driver’s licence, effective in mid-March 2019.

A Class 1 licence is required for any operators of power units, semi trailers and other vehicles towing a trailer or vehicle where the gross weight of the towed unit exceeds 10,000 lbs.

But the province at that time also said it would exempt people who wanted to drive a semi in farming operations. Those drivers could get an “F” endorsement — limiting them to driving semis within Saskatchewan’s borders — by passing Class 1 tests, without the mandatory training.

Under a regulatory phase-out announced Wednesday, however, effective March 1, 2020, anyone wanting to get an “F” endorsement on a driver’s licence will have to take 40 hours of commercial driver training.

The “F” endorsement after that date will also include a new restriction. The license holder may drive a farm vehicle normally requiring a Class 1 driver’s licence, only within Saskatchewan’s borders — and also only within a 100-km radius of the address on the vehicle registration.

Effective March 1, 2021, the province said, the “F” endorsement will be eliminated.

After that date, anyone wanting to operate a semi, farming or otherwise, will require a Class 1 driver’s licence — and that will require the full 121.5-hour mandatory training program.

All “F” endorsement holders will also need to complete the training program, the province said Wednesday. Drivers who will have taken the 40 hours’ training toward the “F” endorsement will get credit for those hours.

Thus, the province said Wednesday, “in 2021, mandatory training programs across the Prairies will be completely aligned.”

The province said last year it wanted to consult further with the ag industry on mandatory training, “recognizing that vehicles used in farming operations are — in most cases — not on the roads as much as commercial semis; they also tend to travel shorter distances, and through areas with lower traffic volumes,” Joe Hargrave, the provincial minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), said Wednesday.

“The majority of people we consulted in the agriculture sector agreed training was necessary to improve safety for everyone travelling on our roads.”

Drivers who held Class 1 licenses in Saskatchewan before March 15, 2019 were grandfathered in at that time and are allowed to continue to drive semis. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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