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Quebec eyes road safety

MONTREAL, Que. - "One person is killed or injured on the road every nine minutes. In 2006, 719 were killed and 57,000 were injured. This is why we have decided to make 2007 the year of road safety. Ei...


SPREADING THE WORD: Transports Quebec is aiming to educate truck drivers and motorists as part of Road Safety Year. The campaign will include TV, print and online advertisements, including some that teach four-wheelers how to drive around trucks.

SPREADING THE WORD: Transports Quebec is aiming to educate truck drivers and motorists as part of Road Safety Year. The campaign will include TV, print and online advertisements, including some that teach four-wheelers how to drive around trucks.


MONTREAL, Que. – “One person is killed or injured on the road every nine minutes. In 2006, 719 were killed and 57,000 were injured. This is why we have decided to make 2007 the year of road safety. Eighty per cent of accidents are caused by erratic driving. We absolutely have to put ourselves in a state of alert,” said Quebec Transport Minister Michel Despres on Jan. 31.

With those and other grim words, he launched an unprecedented 11-month program to reduce the carnage on the province’s roads.

A time table of 43 campaigns that will be rolled out over the course of the year targets alcohol, speeding, road construction, cell phone use, tailgaiting, driver fatigue, motorcycles, heavy trucks, and many other topics relating to behaviour and road safety. Television, radio, Internet, print media and other methods will be used to drive home the message to, above all, slow down and respect the highway signs that instruct drivers how to handle that next stretch of road.

“We will send the (nearly 70 Road Safety Year) partners information kits and press releases, flyers, DVDs. There will be stickers for cars and pins of the road safety year symbol,” says Stephanie Cashman-Pelletier, head of service for safety policy with Transports Quebec.

Already, shock ads designed to hammer home the grotesqueness of getting t-boned in an intersection, complete with blood, crushed bones, a failed attempt to restart dad’s heart while his wife and daughter freak out have begun rolling on French TV, with lots more to come.

Severe injuries to rise

The inspiration for Road Safety Year comes partly from the prediction that, among other upward-trending figures, severe injuries requiring hospitalization will rise by 19% this year, compared to the average from 2001-2005, and partly from the realization that if something isn’t done to smarten up the populace, the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) fund that coughs up for accident claims will be bled white and dead by 2018.

The trucking industry will receive its fair share of attention, from a blitz of letters written by Transports Quebec that the Quebec Transport Commission has agreed to distribute to 51,000 owner/operators, to a full slate of roadside inspections – more of the same that the SAAQ’s highway inspectors carry out every year here.

This summer a 13-part series called “Truckers’ Stories” will run on the French station TQS.

“It will take one truck driver per show and cover an issue; for example, diet, fatigue, the border. There will be a discussion with the driver around the theme for each week,” says Transports Quebec spokesperson Maria Soteriades.

The themes, which will be presented by the TQS station car show RPM, are still being worked out.

Safety message

Whether the series will speak to truckers for their benefit, or to four-wheelers for their own edification is not yet clear, but in any case other campaigns will specifically target road sharing and the sometimes unhealthy relationship between cars and trucks; nearly a decade ago the SAAQ stated that car drivers are responsible for about two-thirds of truck crashes.

Transports Quebec’s annual information campaign during National Safety Week – from mid-May to mid-June, will be exclusively about safety.

“This will be part of the campaign ‘Sharing the Road,’ which will include sharing the road with truckers,” says Cashman-Pelletier.

June is also when the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) carries out its annual Operation Roadcheck – last year 8,522 CVSA-certified inspectors at 1,850 locations across North America performed over 60,357 truck and bus inspections. This 72-hour blitz, carried out simultaneously in Canada, the US and Mexico, is also part of the Quebec campaign.

From April to December the government will run an information campaign for the benefit of truckers, in part to remind them to respect the rules governing the industry and that they do their part to improve road safety.

For roughly three weeks starting in mid-April SAAQ highway inspectors will be doing hours of service checks.

In late June to early July – moving time in Quebec – moving trucks will come under the magnifying glass. Transporters of dangerous goods will get their turn in October.

“The trucking industry is not being pointed at or identified as a black sheep. I think we have a great group in the industry that drives trucks,” says Marc Cadieux, president and director general of the Quebec Trucking Association (QTA), of Road Safety Year. “We are already promoters of security and sharing the road.”

In keeping with the theme that drivers simply must slow down, Cadieux notes that the proposal to bring in speed limiters for trucks is still on the table.

“There is a will from the government to implement them, but they have to be implemented throughout Canada. We cannot be the only province involved in that. Negotiations are underway. Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon is for it.”


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