CTV Northern Ontario: OPP says preventable transport truck crashes are on the rise

Transport trucks have been the lifeline of our economy, allowing us to maintain our way of life. But the Ontario Provincial Police say more and more of them are involved in entirely preventable accidents.

Provincial figures show reckless and aggressive driving was the cause or contributing factor in the majority of the 4,274 collisions involving large commercial vehicles this year.

Collisions account for 22% of fatal road collisions in the province and mark a 40% increase in collisions with transport trucks compared to the same period last year.

Here in the northeast, the numbers aren’t much better. The North East OPP has responded to 381 motor vehicle collisions involving trucks so far, up from 324 this time last year.

Police also responded to six fatal crashes in the area, an increase of one.

“It’s always a concern for us,” said Const. Michael Simard.

“Seeing that there is an increase from last year at this time, of course we wonder what we need to do better. But we are out there on the highways and we are doing everything we can. to make sure everyone is safe.”

The drivers responsible for the incidents are both drivers of passenger vehicles and drivers of transport trucks.

The numbers come as no surprise to John Beaudry, president of Transportation Training Centers of Canada, headquartered in Sudbury. The company operates the nation’s largest truck training school.

“I’m surprised it’s not more,” Beaudry said.

“There was such a disregard for safety and…proper testing and knowledge of drivers that it’s really unwise what the government is allowing on the roads today.”

He said the province still allows privatized certification of the airbrakes drivers need on their license.

As things stand in Ontario, Beaudry said Ontario doesn’t have strict regulations and there’s still a lot to do.

“It’s the air brake endorsement that’s such a virtual part of the safety component, it’s just having the ability to stop it and there are so many people who don’t have the proper training or who have not demonstrated the appropriate knowledge using the trucks,” he said.

Last week, the Ontario Provincial Police and MTO removed nearly one-third of inspected vehicles from the road.

“Twenty percent of the trucks on the road probably have a defect so severe that the truck shouldn’t be on the road,” Beaudry said.

“That should scare people enough to keep that in mind as they drive, that this truck might not have the ability to stop as quickly as you would like.”

The Ontario Provincial Police said everyone needs to do their part to make sure the highways are safe.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure the road is safe – everyone from the person driving a small car to the person driving a commercial vehicle,” Simard said.

“We all need to take responsibility for driving safely, arriving at your destination safely and being aware of your surroundings and what’s in front of you.”

Operation Safe Driver will begin next week and the OPP said it will be out in force, targeting aggressive driving and risky behavior, particularly in and around transport trucks.

Collisions with transport trucks have so far accounted for 13 per cent of all collisions investigated by the OPP this year on provincial highways.

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