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Québec Paves the Way for Young Truck Drivers

On November 11, 2020, the Government of Québec published the Regulation to amend the Regulation respecting licences (CQLR, c. C-24.2, r. 34, the "RARL"). The RARL makes substantial changes to the accompaniment conditions provided by the Highway Safety Code for any driver holding a probationary licence enrolled in the Programme enrichi d’accès à la conduite de véhicules lourds ("PEACVL").

The PEACVL, until recently a pilot project, is specifically designed to train young drivers in order to give them access to a higher class driver's licence at the age of 18. The PEACVL is meant, among other things, to address the shortage of drivers in the trucking industry.

Based on the results of the pilot project, the Québec Minister of Transport finally decided, through the RARL, what form this new training would take as well as the assistance requirements for young drivers.

Since last November 26, the RARL provides that the PEACVL will be offered by heavy vehicle driving schools under of the Centre de services scolaire des Premières-Seigneuries (Quebec City region) or the Centre de services scolaire de la Rivière-du-Nord (Montreal region). In practice, these refer to the well-known heavy vehicle driving schools in Charlesbourg (Quebec City) and in Saint-Jérôme, north of Montreal. To be eligible for the PEACVL, the candidate must hold a class 5 probationary licence and have no demerit points entered in their driver’s record.

The PEACVL allows the registered student to drive a Class 1 (big truck), 2 (bus) or 3 (not-as-big truck) vehicle when “accompanied” by a person seated in another vehicle. The accompanying person must have held a driver's licence in the appropriate class for at least two years and be a teacher authorized by one of the driving schools listed above.

The PEACVL also allows students over 18 years of age to drive a vehicle belonging to the class for which they are studying without being accompanied, as long as they have successfully completed all PEACVL stages prior to unassisted on-road driving. The company for which the student is interning must nevertheless be registered in the Register of Owners and Operators of Heavy Vehicles (Québec’s National Safety Code safety fitness certificate) and have a "satisfactory" safety rating.

The exemption provided for in the RARL does not allow the student to transport dangerous goods, to drive on roads outside Québec, or to drive a vehicle covered by the Regulation respecting special permits (oversize/overweight) or the Special Road Train Operating Permits Regulation (long combination vehicles or LCVs).

Driver shortages have been a puzzle for the industry for years, and companies and governments alike have grappled with the balance between access to the profession and safety. With the enactment of this new program specific to the training of young drivers aged 18 and under, Québec becomes the first Canadian jurisdiction to relax restrictions on very young drivers in order to address the shortage of drivers in the trucking industry.

McCarthy Tétrault's Transportation and Logistics Group regularly advises motor carriers and their drivers on the requirements for the operation of commercial vehicles. For more information, please contact David F. Blair or Brian Lipson.



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