Better truck enforcement is needed

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I am sick of the fatalities on the highway. Needless loss of a loved one is devastating for families.

Recently, I wrote about road rage being at an all-time high. It’s getting worse, not better. This winter we are in for a really rough ride on our highways.

I have covered what we, as truck drivers, should be doing.

It’s simple. Give enough space to the vehicle in front, let others in, and do whatever you can to make life easier on the asphalt ribbon. Check your attitude!

The next question that comes up is simply, enforcement.

I better preface this with a few comments. This article is my opinion. It is not a research piece. I draw from my decades of driving as the basis for what I’m about to say.

I stand firmly with the officers from whatever governing body is patrolling our roads.

As a whole, transport compliance officers and police do the best they can in their area. They are limited by things beyond their control. Politicians want one set of laws enforced, the public another, and their budgets are limited. None of that is wrong. It is a fact of living in society. There is no way an officer can enforce all the laws we have.

Meanwhile, people are dying on our roads. Crashes are higher than ever. The severity of injuries is increasing.

Do you know that some areas are known to commercial drivers to be a greater risk of tickets? If you want to speed or act unsafe in Michigan, Ohio, or Wisconsin as a few examples, you have a much higher chance of being caught. I know if I’m in the Hamilton, Ont., area I better make sure my rig is in good repair because the HRPS are watching. There are towns all over North America that you know watch outsiders. In those areas, here’s a shocker: People drive much better!

In places where there’s photo radar, drivers are more vigilant. I know the argument that it is just a cash grab but let me tell you something. Drivers will watch closer for the radar areas so they don’t get caught. Watch! Pay attention! That’s a good thing even if it’s temporary, because at least for a time they’re paying more attention.

(Photo: iStock)

Everywhere has a “Move over, Slow down” law, but in Canada it really doesn’t mean anything unless you are in Saskatchewan where enforcement loves watching for that. There’s also this infraction called “Following too close,” but that is a law that I never see enforced in Ontario (except for after a crash). Limiting the trucks to 105 km/h hasn’t helped, it has just made it worse. Some drivers think that by riding the bumper of the truck in front they can somehow get where they’re going faster. Or they think that they’ll be able to pass better. What follows next is usually fatal. Then, the officers attend.

It angers me when another truck is less than three meters from my rear bumper at 100 km/h and I pass an officer holding a radar gun and nothing gets done.

There are two things that scare me the most. Sitting beside or on a road with hazards on in an emergency. Trucks following too close with the intention of passing, even when it’s unsafe.

So, here’s my Christmas wish list: Pull over trucks who are tailgating. And enforce the move over laws.

Drivers will get the message. It will take consistent vigilance to have the best effect.

Here’s the challenge for you: If you’re a driver, drive today like you want to do it again tomorrow, as Jason Hanson (@RocknRollAgrnmy) recently tweeted me. And if you are a driver manager of any kind, help remind your drivers of that quote.

As a citizen, contact your government representatives at all levels to keep them focused on what will minimize fatalities on our roads.

In my 32 years of experience as a commercial driver, it has become clear that the drivers who drive aggressively are the most prone to crashes. The easiest way to spot them is by what they do when behind a vehicle and when passing others.

Let’s give our officers the ability to target these types of behaviors. Enough people have died or been hurt. Please do your part. I don’t want to see another fatality due to idiots on our highways.

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David Henry is a longhaul driver, Bell Let's Talk representative and creator/cohost of the Crazy Canuck Truckin podcast. His passion is mental health and presenting a better image for trucking to the public.

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  • Good article, but you forgot proper lane discipline. Drive in the right and pass to the left and stop blocking the middle lanes!

    • Awesome article! Cheers!

      The vision for safer roads as seen by the OTA and other trucking organizations has been an abysmal failure.

  • We already have enough laws on the books pay drivers by the hour like some in-house carriers do based of the E logs. Give more lee way on delivery times. Pay truck drivers twice the minimum wage while the truck is in traffic. Then we will have plenty of people lined up to drive truck and the companies can get rid of the poor ones.

  • Great article, David. I communicate to all our OO’s that I want them to drive like their wife and kids are in the truck and all the cars around them. I promise to pay them for the whole load rather than be unsafe. I don’t want them stressing about what a load pays. Think about driving.

  • I agree with your opinion, it’s important for package forwarding trucks to drive safe and give space to other people as well

  • Good article David! Thank you. One other piece of advice to drivers would be remember your Company’s name is on the truck.
    Therefore, do not think your bad habits won’t be discovered by members of the public and your Supervisor.