Once again our illustrious Ontario Liberal Transport Minister has stepped to the plate to ensure a heightened awareness of truck safety by our industry.
I have not decided whether to categorize the latest action as total ignorance in a weak attempt to pander to the general public or just call it a total lack of political backbone clearly demonstrating no sense of what this industry needs whatsoever. For those of you who are not aware, the latest proposed Transit and Road Safety Bill will make flying vehicle parts from both commercial trucks and passenger vehicles a mandatory Highway Traffic Act offence. The provision automatically deems a vehicle unsafe if a part becomes detached on the highway, and would make vehicle owners and third parties that maintain the equipment, such as mechanics, responsible for any such incident.
Fines for commercial trucks determined to be “unsafe” currently range from $400 to $20,000 and $50,000 for a wheel-off. They also propose to increase the items required for a pre-trip inspection from 23 to 70. Of course this all falls under the zero tolerance provision. What this means is that our constitutional rights as truckers mean nothing to them and the courts are not available to us to defend us as they are for every other Canadian. We are automatically deemed to be guilty – no question, no argument, period!
Anyone, who cares to notice, knows that the numbers support that our industry year over year has reduced truck-related incidents for 10 years running. Here are the facts:
* Ontario now ranks lowest in Canada and second lowest in N.A. in fatalities per 10,000 drivers.
* Between 1988 and 2002, the large truck population grew by 37.8 per cent while the number of fatal collisions involving large trucks decreased by 24.2 per cent.
* Our RoadCheck ’04 compliance rate was 76.2 per cent, a 34 per cent improvement since the mid-’90s.
This makes me proud to be a member of this industry. We are socially conscious and the vast majority of us take our responsibilities seriously. It has always angered me that we have a system that rates a carrier’s dedication to safety almost entirely on paperwork and roadsides. The amount of preventable accidents a carrier has per miles driven has no bearing on the rating a carrier is given by the ministry. Ridiculous!
What do we get from our government? Threats and exclusion from our own Charter of Rights. Wouldn’t you think that mandating a minimal level of entry-level driver training would be a good idea? We would get rid of the licensing mills that still exist and have some confidence that each entry-level driver has at least a minimal level of skill that would be acceptable to the industry. Is this a good place to start? Apparently not. In some circles the best place to start is at the end of the food chain after an incident happens, not where it might be prevented to begin with. But why be proactive and attempt to fix the problems at the source?
I’ve got a good idea Minister Takhar: Let’s threaten all truckers and exclude them from the Charter of Rights. That should straighten them out. That way we really don’t need to do anything concrete! What can the truckers do about it anyway? Call that fair and equal governance? I call it socialist bull!
Ray Haight, President & COO
Mackinnon Transport Inc.
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