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Ontario crash stats a disappointment

A multi-faceted approach is needed to improve road safety


In early April, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) released statistics for fatal collisions on roadways it patrolled in 2017.

The stats indicated the OPP responded to 68,794 collisions in 2017, 304 of which were fatal. This marked the highest number of road fatalities in five years.

Seventy-six of these 304 fatal collisions involved commercial vehicles (25%), resulting in 91 deaths. These numbers represent a 10-year high for fatal collisions involving commercial vehicles. While the stats do not indicate who was at fault, one thing is clear, we all have work to do to continue to promote and improve road safety.

This point was driven home even further with the tragic accident involving the Humboldt Broncos on April 6, which resulted in 16 deaths. The accident itself is still being investigated by the RCMP.

Most of us have been taught over the years, and I am a firm believer of this, all accidents are preventable. There are, of course, several factors and conditions that can lead to accidents, which are beyond the control of the driver.

Did a poorly designed construction zone contribute to the collision? An improper intersection design? Insufficient road maintenance? Sudden weather change, such as a snowsquall causing a whiteout? These are just a few examples of conditions that are beyond the control of a driver and that may contribute to an accident.

No matter what the circumstances, however, the biggest factor in any accident is still human behavior and error. I think we can all agree no one gets in their vehicle, heads out on the road, and intends to go out and cause an accident. Most of us are just trying to get to and from where we need to go, and some, like truck drivers, are doing it to make a living and provide for their loved ones while delivering the products and services we all need.

In spite of this, accidents do continue to occur – and likely always will – as no perfect human has been born, and we all make mistakes. Because of this, we must never let our guard down, and we must continually strive to improve the safety of our roadways – by whatever means necessary – to make them as safe as possible.

Distracted and aggressive driving has become an issue that seems to get worse with every passing year – for all road users – and commercial vehicle operators are not immune from this. It is a societal problem that has become an epidemic on our roadways.

It will take a multi-faceted approach – from all segments – to improve road safety. Several stakeholders and partners will have to work together. This requires all partners to look internally and admit their faults. We, in the trucking industry, are part of this process. We should all be proud of the safety record of this industry, but at the same time we need to investigate our warts, and be willing to find ways to remove, or improve those in our industry who don’t want to play by the rules. It is always easiest to point the finger of blame elsewhere, but the biggest effect on safety we will ever have, is by changing our own behaviors, and helping others improve theirs.

You will be glad to know, progress is already being made. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the OPP, and several trucking industry representatives and associations, have been working together since the fall of 2017 to come up with a way of improving the safety of our roadways.

No stone is being left unturned – egos and agendas have been checked at the door, and the groups are simply trying to do what they can to promote the safest roads possible. I have been lucky enough to be involved in this process and have been thoroughly impressed by all. It is great to see the different sectors, who can sometimes be thought of as being at odds, all working towards the same common goal.

Out of this group will come strategies and forward-thinking plans to achieve the improvement we hope to see. Some areas being looked at are enforcement, monitoring, technology and infrastructure, public education and communication, research, and data and training. All of us working together is the best way to get results.

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Mike Millian is president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the only national association that represents the views and interests of the private fleet industry. He can be reached at trucks@pmtc.ca.


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4 Comments » for Ontario crash stats a disappointment
  1. Bruce Locke says:

    Response to Ontario Crash Stats a Dissapointment
    I firmly believe, and the logistics of this is enormous, that every driver in Ontario should be re examined every five years, and possibly take a refresher driving course at that time.
    I’ve had my class A licence since 1979 and have been re-examined 7 times. Compare this to a 60 year old driver who was “tested” at 16 years of age. These people can be dangerous as they develop habits and ideas over 44 years of driving. The pushback on this would be politically unpopular and will never happen. (remember photo radar?)
    The driving schools must focus more on driving technique and situations, rather than how to pass the driving test.
    My next point is that the examinations should be more difficult, stressing more modern day issues ( distracted driving, driving around large vehicles, for example)
    I will finish with a question, why do vehicles go faster than the speed limit? It’s absurd to think that there are vehicles allowed on roads that go so fast ( you can buy a factory issue 2019 Corvette that has been tested at top speed of 341 km an hour), we are not safe with or around someone going so fast.

  2. Kurt says:

    You forgot to mention the differential speed limit.

  3. Class 1 Driver says:

    If I may ,I’d like to post an opinion . My intention isn’t to justify ,but rather to explain how I see it.

    Since deregulation , the trucking industry has become and is continuing to be extremely competitive . In order to compete ,”Corporate Brains” found ways to cut corners . Keep in mind that big manufacturers who depend on their products being shipped to clients , are pressured by employees for wage increases which thus eventually leads to unions being elected and inserted into manufacturers and so on which raises manufacturing costs .
    Corporate brains need to keep costs low and profits high to keep their jobs , shareholders happy , and the business flourishing. A way to bypass a union is to enter into contracts with private independent transport brokers . Let’s just call them ” Owner Operators” . These owner operators aren’t related to any union , and they in turn hire drivers whom are actually employees , but use the misclassification loophole and declare them as “independent contractors” in an attempt to bypass any employee employer responsibilities and unions. This cuts costs .

    It’s also a fraud that has a long term negative effect on everyone economically. The driver ends up earning a little above minimum wage and has to work the equivalent of two regular week jobs but doesn’t get paid overtime ,ie: cycle 1 70hrs per week . when profits decrease due to an alarming rate of increased competition ,these so called “brokers” are running their businesses with nickels and dimes , they are too tight financially to keep their trucks properly maintained and they threaten driver’s jobs if their drivers don’t drive them .

    So Drivers get squeezed and pressured by threats , to commit fraud(crime) , cut on sleep to be on time due to traffic etc. , while the irony of the industry is : in order to qualify to be a driver you must not be a criminal and or no criminal record , however, the industry pressures Drivers and expects them to act like a criminal , thus become a criminal to keep and do your job .
    Concerning irresponsible driving :

    We certainly can’t forget about our 2 and 4 wheel friends that drive their bikes,cars and pick up trucks like they were the only one on the road . Major lack of education there too . And this causes the perfect ingredients to cause division rather than union. And we end up with total chaos on our roads . Add the Electronic log into that equation and you end up with shortages and inflationary pressure . We’re currently seeing this in the United States . Drivers are fed up of being blamed in this dog-eat-dog industry . I personally quit jobs when they don’t comply with safety . And due to taking my responsibilities ,it is I and my family that suffers, while some ignorant driver fills their own pockets with money driving an illegal commercial vehicle due to their caving in to pressures. How is that for justice ? Our ignorance and lack of responsibility is killing us and the industry …………. You can thank sleeping union heads and deregulation for the way it has become . But it’ll change . Increasing costs also motivates innovation and change . But in the mean time we have to put up with the so called “geniuses” who allowed tire recaps of which are a ROAD HAZARD , and the craziest one yet , blocking engine speed on public roads that are already regulated with SPEEDING LIMITS !

  4. Phill M says:

    How many of the transport involved accidents, specially on Highway 11 and Highway 17 in Northern Ontario, are by truck drivers from out of province?

    It would be interesting to compare and see who is causing the accidents, in proportion to the number of trucks on the road from various provinces.
    Given that Ontario has mandatory pre-licence driver training, and all other provinces don’t (Alberta in March 2019), it seems most bad truck drivers on the road are not Ontario drivers (though we certainly have a few), but from out of province.

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