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Do truckers’ constitutional rights mean nothing to Queen’s Park?

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 la...


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 pretrip 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 ourselves as they are for every other Canadian citizen. 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 2nd lowest in North America in fatalities per 10,000 drivers;

* Between 1988 and 2002, the large truck population grew by 37.8% while the number of fatal collisions involving large trucks decreased by 24.2% during the same period;

* Ontario’s Road Check 2004 compliance rate was 76.2%, a 34% improvement since the mid 1990’s.

This makes me proud to be a member of this industry. We have a social conscience 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. 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?

Ray Haight

President & COO

Mackinnon Transport Inc


Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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