Petition calls for an end to ‘carnage’ on Highway 11/17

Richard Deschamps says it’s time for the carnage on Ontario’s Highway 11/17 to end and as of Thursday morning more than 7,500 people agreed with him.

The truck driver of EGL Transport is behind an online petition, Working Together for a Better and Safer Highway, launched shortly after an acquaintance was killed in a head-on collision along the highway 102, which crosses the route.

Truck driver Richard Deschamps is behind an online petition to end the “carnage” on the highway. 11/17. (Photo: supplied)

Deschamps has been the victim of numerous close calls during his 28 years at the wheel, even during his daily work between Montreal and the West Coast. He also saw numerous wrecks in photos shared by the Hwy 11/17 Kills People group on Facebook, which itself has 11,000 members.

But he wants to do more than look to the side.

“I’m just starting to get fed up with the stats – friends die, near misses, don’t know if I’m gonna make it home,” Deschamps told, explaining why he created the petition with the support from the Facebook group. “They [politicians] need to wake up and stop the carnage… It really is a cry from the heart.

“Enough with the dead, enough with these inexperienced, dangerous and unskilled drivers breaking the ground rules of our roads, enough with the carnage, enough with our safety endangered every time we use Highway 11. / 17, enough with the government not taking these issues seriously, they must take responsibility for these deadly actions, ”the petition preamble states.

“Since they don’t think Northern Ontario exists, let’s take a stand that they have no choice but to tackle these important issues.

“They need to wake up and stop the carnage.”

-Richard Deschamps

This is not the first time that the motorway has received special attention. Guy Bourgouin, MLA for Mushkegowuk-Baie James, championed Safer Roads in Northern Ontario Act. This would classify Highway 11/17 as a Class 1 highway, requiring it to be cleaned up to the pavement and side to side within eight hours of a snowfall. Currently, these standards are limited to the 400 series highways and QEW, which are further south.

But Deschamps’ concerns are more about the state of driver training and driving licenses than about the highway itself. He comes from a family of truck drivers and loves this job. But he thinks too many inexperienced drivers are sent off on their own with little experience behind the wheel of heavy equipment.

“There are untrained drivers, people who have never been west in the mountains, just sent on their own,” he said. A month ago, he spoke to a truck driver who was driving the route alone even though he had never seen snow before. “When I started, that would never happen.”

“Maybe screw up training, companies that hire unskilled and untrained drivers and send them out on their own,” Deschamps said, noting that he also served as an instructor during his career.

He is not entirely convinced that politicians have listened. Most of the answers he’s seen are generic, as if they just filled in the blanks. But some MPs seem more willing to listen as the online petition gains supporters.

“We’re not going to give up,” he said, referring to members of the Facebook group.

“I hope all of Northern Ontario will get on with it. We must unite for better and safer highways.

About Julie Gray

Check Also

Biden wants three-month suspension of gasoline and diesel taxes

On Wednesday, President Biden called on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for …