Quebec study finds:

by Julia Kuzeljevich

QUEBEC CITY, Que. – In the battle for public acceptance, trucking appears to be gaining ground in the province of Quebec.

Transports Quebec and the Quebec Trucking Association (QTA) sent out three surveys in 1999, focusing on opinions of the general public and industry as a whole. And once the survey results from Leger and Leger were crunched by the University of Quebec’s Centre de Recherche en Gestion, the public was found to feel the same or better about trucks than they have in the past.

When motorists see a tractor-trailer assembly, 41.6 per cent typically have a passive reaction, perhaps feeling a little fear or vulnerability, the surveys found. About 29 per cent will react more actively, either outdistancing or yielding the highway to the heavy vehicles, while 15.3 per cent have either no particular image or reaction, or have perhaps a more positive one.

Just under 60 per cent of motorists said that truckers should be restricted to driving during peak hours, and 78.6 per cent said they were not prepared to pay any additional taxes to compensate for a restriction.

Generally, the surveys found that there was a fair amount of empathy among motorists towards truck drivers, but that they tended to have less patience when sharing the road with trucks.

Still, the trucking industry didn’t have the same warm feelings about the general public.

Among the carriers that were surveyed, most thought four-wheelers were more likely to ignore speed limits. Truck drivers were thought to respect these limits more often.

Both carriers and other motorists thought that road conditions had deteriorated significantly in the past five years, and that there were significantly more trucks on the road than there were five years ago.

When asked what the main reason for Quebec’s deteriorating roads, motor carriers were more apt to blame the government for not properly constructing and maintaining roads, while motorists were putting some of the blame on heavy vehicles themselves. When it comes to accidents, motorists tended to put much of the blame for truck accidents on driver fatigue and speed, while motor carriers looked toward motorists’ behavior and aggressive driving as bigger causes.

Claude Pigeon, QTA’s vice-president, told Truck News that there is not enough of a police presence in Quebec to enforce road safety rules for delinquent truck drivers and motorists alike.

That may be out of the industry’s control, but the Quebec Trucking Association has pledged to continue its focus on public perceptions. At its annual conference in April it presented a video showing the impact of trucking on Quebec’s economy. Motorists do not seem to dispute this, but QTA president Serge LeClerc told the conference that the province’s trucking industry still has a lot to do to combat the industry’s bad image. n

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