In 2019 a lot of changes are going to take place in the Alberta trucking industry. Some of the more critical changes involve a mandatory training program for entry-level truckers, and the elimination of temporary 60-day safety certificates for newly registered carrier companies. Furthermore, the Alberta government will be taking over the duties of road testing for commercial licenses.
As humans we are creatures of habit, and any changes may make us uncomfortable at first. However, a well-rounded understanding of why these changes are taking place, and more importantly, what effect they will have on our day to day lives, can reassure us and give us the confidence to move forward. So, what do you need to know about getting your class 1 license in Alberta?
Some Background Information
In 1993, the Alberta government transferred the duties of license road testing to the private sector. Some 25 years later, the provincial government has reversed its stance and is now implementing a program to return license road testing back to the purview of government employees. This is effective as of March 1st, 2019.
Along with the shift from the private back to the public sector, Alberta Transportation has already introduced stricter testing procedures for those seeking to obtain a class 1 commercial license. Such changes, first implemented back in 2003, were designed to ensure a higher standard of road safety, and a better quality of training for prospective truck drivers. Now, in 2019, the province has decided to strengthen entry-level training to an even greater extent. Furthermore, Alberta has eliminated temporary 60-day safety certificates, a provision which some disreputable trucking companies abused in order to evade accountability for slip-shod practices and negligence.
So, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of the changes. What exactly do you need to know in order to get your class 1 license? Here’s an overview of the steps you need to take in order to get your class 1 license.
What You Need to Know
There are several important new components in the process to obtain a class 1 license and new regulations for the trucking industry in general. Let’s walk through the steps you need to complete in order to get your commercial license, and any crucial changes of which you need to be aware.
First of all, you must meet the minimum requirements to begin the process of obtaining a commercial license. These include the following:
- You must be 18 years of age or older
- You must have at least a Class 5 or a Class 5 GDL operator’s license to take the Class 1 training course.
- If you are not originally from Alberta, you will need to switch your license to a Class 5 issued from Alberta.
- Since you must take a medical exam as a prerequisite to passing the training course, if you have any significant health, vision, or hearing issues, you will likely need to address those before you begin. (For example, you must have at least 20/30 vision in order to successfully pass the medical test.)
The mandatory entry-level training program is one critical change to class 1 licensing. You must attend a school that is officially licensed by the Alberta government. You will need to attend school for both class 1 licensing and air brake (Q) endorsement training. Generally schools offer both courses, since you need the air brake endorsement to complete your class 1 license testing. The air brake portion of classroom instruction usually lasts a full day, followed by a practical test of your knowledge and skills. Once you pass, your instructor will issue you a form that allows you to take the knowledge test at your local Registry Agent office.
There are actually two knowledge tests to successfully complete for your class 1 license. One is based on your knowledge of air brakes; the other is based on the Alberta Commercial Driver’s Guide. Both of these tests are 30 question multiple choice exams, and you are required to correctly answer at least 25 of the questions on each test. Because a class 1 license allows you to drive many vehicles other than trucks, it is wise to study the Driver’s Guide thoroughly, especially sections relating to buses.
At some point, you will need to take that medical exam, and receive a report from your attending doctor. Once completed, you will submit the form to a local Registry Agent. Medical reports are valid for up to 6 months; any period of time beyond that, and you will have to take another medical test in order to qualify for a class 1 license.
After all these previous steps have been completed, you are ready to perform a road test. You will first need to apply for a road test permit, and then book an appointment at an officially approved location. You are required to supply your own vehicle, and it must be a tractor-trailer combination with at least three axles, and also equipped with an air brake system.
The road test consists of a pre-trip inspection test, where you will be tested on the correct processes for inspecting the vehicle, and the air brakes, along with your knowledge of couple/uncoupling procedures.
Then comes the actual driving. The driving portion of the road test may last about 1.5 hours. In order to complete this part of the test, you may need to rent a truck, if you don’t have your own. And once you pass that… you are done! You can exchange your current license for a class 1.
Costs and Questions
For the average entry-level student, the total costs of obtaining a class 1 license could exceed $5,000. Training could cost anywhere from $1,500 for a student with some driving experience to over $9,000 for students seeking industry-specific training such as weigh scale procedures, etc. Fortunately, once you successfully complete your training, the renewal fee for your class 1 license is only $84 for 5 years.
As you can see, the way Alberta drivers obtain class 1 licenses has changed somewhat, and there are many steps in the process. Perhaps you have other questions that were not addressed in this overview. If so, reach out to us at Overdrive. Our experienced professionals have been in the truck service business for over 13 years, and always seek to provide premier customer service to our clients. We are here to answer any of your questions about the necessary steps to obtain a class 1 license. Contact us today.