AVOID MY BLIND SPOTS: Ontario Transportation MInister Harinder Takhar.
TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar knows how to avoid truck blind spots…and direct questions about his position on the 2005 adoption of the Motor Vehicle Transport Act.
The minister, currently in discussions about the MVTA with provincial transport ministers across Canada, was blindsided by questions about the controversial legislation at the Ontario Trucking Association’s recent launch of a new road safety campaign on how to share the road with trucks.
But while the OTA succeeded in getting the minister to climb into a rig to promote the association’s new safe road sharing campaign, reporters couldn’t get a straight answer on whether the minister intends to support the Ontario trucking industry by opposing the adoption of the MVTA before safety ratings systems (which vary widely from province to province) are harmonized across Canada.
Some carriers fear adoption of the MVTA prior to safety ratings systems standardization (each province conducts its own ratings tests) could create an uneven playing field for provinces that enforce higher safety standards than others.
The issue is of special interest to Ontario carriers, who say they have to meet comparatively higher standards than do carriers based in other provinces.
“Yes, I’ll be meeting with federal and provincial stakeholders next week to make sure Canada’s safety standards are the highest in North America,” replied the minister when reporters asked whether he supports or opposes the adoption of the MVTA, given the current safety standard discrepancies.
“We’ll be working together to make sure all the provinces share the same standards and that they get better year after year.”
The minister was substantially less vague when it came to expressing his support for the OTA’s road safety campaign warning motorists to avoid driving in a truck’s blind spots.
After a demonstration of safe road sharing practices by Ontario Road Knights Jody Orr of Challenger Motor Freight, and Randy Burry of L.E. Walker Transport, the minister spoke a few words in support of the campaign.
“More than one-third of fatal collisions with trucks are linked to motorists unknowingly driving in truckers’ blind spots,” said Takhar.
“That’s the very reason truckers and drivers need to look out for each other’s safety – our government believes that this starts with education.” The minister then hopped into a rig for a photo opp and ride with Road Knight Maryann Geertsema, of Kriska.
The “Avoid my blind spots” campaign will provide carriers and O/Os with a 9 1/2″ x 17″ sticker that fits on the back door of a truck’s trailer.
The sticker is available free of charge to Ontario truck fleets. Contact OTA at 416-249-7401 for details.
Posters have also been printed depicting the blind spot areas and will be distributed to MTO Driver’s Licensing offices, car driving schools and similar locations to further boost awareness.