New truck drivers in Alberta now have to go through more than 100 hours of training before they get behind the wheel.

As of March 1, drivers seeking a Class 1 licence are required to train for 121.5 hours. Before Friday, the training was voluntary.

The change was made, in part, because of the Humboldt Broncos crash, where the driver of the truck that struck the team bus and killed 16 had received one week of training.

“We want to make sure that everybody on the road has a sufficient level of training, not only just to operate the vehicle, but to operate it safely in all conditions,” Transportation Minister Brian Mason said.

Drivers who got their licence before the mandatory training program was announced in October 2018 do not need to go through the new process, but those who passed the exam between October and March will have to take the exam again.

Robin Cameron, a senior driving instructor, believes the cost for training programs will increase from $3,000 to as high as $10,000.

“The average Albertan doesn’t have that kind of money to come in and start taking some training to change their career,” Cameron said.

A more expensive training program adds a barrier to an industry already struggling to find drivers.

“We’re essentially at a critical driver shortage in the industry,” Alberta Motor Transport Association President Chris Nash said. “The average age of a driver right now is 46 years old in Canada for a commercial vehicle driver.”

The province is working on a program to help students cover training costs.

Money aside, Cameron believes the changes are necessary.

“It’s not going to do anything except put out a much better finished product, and that’s going to make the roads safer for everybody.”

With files from CTV Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson