Alberta is considering changing how soon temporary foreign workers must switch over to a provincial driver’s licence.
Alberta Transportation is in the midst of reviewing the Traffic Safety Act and has issued a public survey to collect input and identify ways Alberta’s roads could be made safer.
One question up for debate is when TFWs should be required to get an Alberta licence.
The survey notes: “Drivers new to Alberta may not be familiar with Alberta’s rules of the road and may have been tested using different standards.”
Currently, TFWs are allowed to drive for up to one year in Alberta as long as they have a driver’s licence and an international driving permit issued by their country of origin, regardless of their experience navigating icy roads. After one year, drivers are required to switch over to an Alberta licence.
While drivers from North America, much of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Republic of Korea are able to forego a driving test when switching over their licence, most drivers from Asia and Africa are required to pass knowledge and road tests before they are issued an Alberta licence.
However, some are questioning how effective the province’s current regulations are after seven TFWs were killed in separate collisions on Alberta highways in the past three weeks.
Fatal crashes spur calls for mandatory driver training
On Sunday, three workers were killed in a crash near Sylvan Lake when the Ford Mustang they were in was hit by a truck, went into the ditch and then crossed the centre line backwards.
While icy roads are believed to have been a factor, police say driver inexperience may have been an issue.
Fe Deriquito knew the victims of this weekend’s crash. She says Filipinos aren’t necessarily equipped to handle Alberta’s winter roads.
“We minimize traveling at this time of the year, because even if we’re drivers back home – the road conditions here are different,” she said.
Dicky Dikamba works with Canadian Volunteers United in Action, a non-profit group in Edmonton that offers a six-hour, theory based driving class for newcomers – something he believes should be mandatory.
“[In] Alberta, we have snow, we have too much snow – and we have to be able to drive in Alberta. It’s not easy,” he said. “We have to have training, do some practice.
But Alberta’s transportation minister Wayne Drysdale says he is satisfied with the requirements in place for TFWs, and trusts drivers will adapt to conditions no matter where they’re from.
“The only way to get experience driving in Alberta winter conditions is actually drive in the conditions,” he said.
However, Drysdale says he will reconsider the issue if the survey results show the issue is something that concerns Albertans.
The online survey will remain open until Jan. 2.