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The article discusses the changes being made to the Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 drivers in Alberta in response to the tragic bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team in 2018. The crash, which resulted in the deaths of 16 people, was caused by an inexperienced and undertrained semi-truck driver. In an effort to improve driver training and safety on the roads, the Alberta government has announced a new “learning pathway” that will replace MELT starting in March 2025. This new pathway aims to focus more on skills rather than just hours of training and will require applicants to work towards obtaining a Red Seal designation as a professional trade while receiving on-the-job training in the same vehicle they will be using in their career.

The president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, Robert Harper, has voiced his support for the changes, stating that the new pathway will produce better, professional drivers. Harper also mentioned that MELT has been expensive and has not achieved the desired outcome of improving the quality of drivers. The changes announced by the province are expected to put more focus on skills training, which should lead to improved safety on the roads. Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen has highlighted that the new pathway will provide more appropriate training for certain industries, increased in-cab training hours, and an expanded scope of training.

Carol Brons, whose daughter Dayna died in the Humboldt bus crash, supports the proposed changes to the training program if they lead to a more competency-based program with more in-depth skills training. Brons, who is also a director with the group Safer Roads Canada, emphasized the need for a better system in Canada for reporting across provinces when it comes to drivers’ records. She believes that there is room for improvement in the training program, especially as the anniversary of the Broncos crash approaches. Brons stressed the importance of making changes that will make the roads safer for everyone.

As of April 1, 2024, Alberta’s Class 1 licensing and training changes will exempt farmers and their immediate family members from MELT, providing them with a farm-restricted Class 1 driver’s license. This will allow farmers to operate Class 1 vehicles within Alberta for authorized farm purposes only. The changes to the training program come in response to the ongoing concerns about road safety and the need to improve the quality of drivers on the roads. The changes are aimed at creating a more skills-focused training program that will produce better, more professional drivers and ultimately enhance safety for all road users.

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