REGINA – A father who lost his son in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says mandatory training in Saskatchewan for commercial semi-truck drivers is a good first step, but he wants to see more.
Russ Herold, whose son Adam died in a collision between the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi last April, told CJME in Regina that he would like to see the rules adopted nationwide. Herold is also calling for graduated licensing with limits on mileage and on what semi-trailer combinations drivers are allowed based on how much time they’ve spent behind the wheel.
Last week, the Saskatchewan government announced that, starting in March, drivers will have to take mandatory training of just over 120 hours for a Class 1 commercial licence. Farmers driving for agricultural purposes will be exempt from the new rules, but will need to stay within the provincial boundary.
Herold, a farmer himself, doesn’t think there should be exemptions for anyone. “There is no such thing as a border when you’re a truck driver nowadays,” he said. “Everybody sees that there’s lots of trucks. Truck traffic is just the way goods move these days and we need to ensure the roads are safe.” He suggested experience has to be key in training.
“Experience behind the wheel is what’s going to make people better drivers. You’re not going on a thousand-mile trip your first trip out,” Herold said. “We all share the road and an accident could happen in 50 miles as easy as it can in 500 miles.”
Sixteen people were killed and 13 players were injured as a result of the crash at a rural intersection in April as the Broncos were heading to a junior hockey playoff game.
The truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, is charged with numerous counts of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, has called mandatory training overdue and said the government had been considering the measure even before the Broncos crash.
Herold said he gets frustrated to hear that from a government that has been in power for years.
“If people talk like that, obviously they know there was a concern. There was possibly a problem,” he said. “Why weren’t things done sooner? Why did it take a tragedy like this to bring it to the forefront?”