In a letter dated February of this year the Ontario Provincial Police notified the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada of a planned month-long crackdown on commercial vehicles, specifically those sp...
In a letter dated February of this year the Ontario Provincial Police notified the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada of a planned month-long crackdown on commercial vehicles, specifically those speeding, following too closely, making unsafe lane changes and engaging in other forms of aggressive driving.
Similar notification was sent to other associations that represent commercial vehicle operators.
As I read the letter my initial reactions were three-fold: 1) It’s always nice to have advance notice of targeted enforcement plans and to be able to share that information with our members; 2) Here we go again, another crackdown on the safest vehicles on the highway; and 3) Why isn’t there an ongoing crackdown on all drivers that operate vehicles in the manner described in the letter?
To their credit, the OPP’s notification contained an acknowledgement that the majority of professional drivers abide by the law. This merely confirmed a record that is undisputed and has been built over many years – that commercial truck drivers and their vehicles are among the safest users of the road.
It’s no coincidence that in collisions between trucks and cars, the car driver is more likely to be at fault.
Truck drivers are of course not immune to the kind of behaviour to which the OPP refers, so just to clear the air, this is not to suggest anything of the kind. The industry has its share of bad drivers, but if we were to identify the principal sector causing havoc on the highways it would certainly not be trucking.
All of which made me wonder why we needed yet another crackdown targeting commercial vehicles, and more specifically, where did the resources come from to make it happen?
But it was the question about resources that stuck in my mind. During a fairly recent meeting with the trucking industry and the OPP, the Minister of Transportation of the day stated categorically that there were insufficient resources available to the OPP to address speeding by commercial vehicles, let alone the other examples of aggressive driving mentioned in the February letter.
This was put forward as reality and as a principle reason for mandating speed limiters on trucks. The OPP officers in attendance concurred with that Minister’s assessment of the situation.
Now, only a few months later, the OPP found, or was provided with, the wherewithal to conduct a month-long crackdown on commercial vehicles.
In the February letter the OPP suggested that there is a public expectation for a response to the frequency and seriousness of collisions involving commercial vehicles.
I suggest that the public’s expectation is less narrow in focus. The public wants the OPP and other enforcement bodies to be able to respond effectively to all forms of aggressive driving.
It is our hope that the additional support assigned to make this project viable is now or soon will become permanent. Aggressive driving is a malady that has the potential to touch each and every one of us who ventures out on the road.
Enforcement officials require the tools to combat it effectively no matter what type of vehicles are involved. An all-encompassing approach to combating aggressive driving is surely something that the public would support.
With that in mind, we had encouraged the OPP to broaden the reach of this effort by targeting all vehicles operating in an unsafe manner, but the target remained commercial vehicles.
Shortly after the crackdown the OPP reported that slightly fewer than 8,700 commercial vehicles were stopped and just over 1,200 charges were laid.
There charges were varied, including speeding, use of radar detectors and criminal code offenses, along with some vehicle-related issues.
When considered in isolation the number of charges is significant but when put in context with the number of commercial vehicles operating on the highways involved and the number actually stopped, the results could be considered a positive for the industry. It would be interesting to see what the results of a car-specific crackdown might be.
If the OPP were able to target aggressive driving with a more sustainable approach, apply it to all vehicles and drivers, and publicize it to the travelling public, there can be little doubt that we would have safer roads – exactly what we all want.
Of course they need the appropriate resources to make this happen.
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