TORONTO, Ont. – A rash of high-profile truck rollovers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) this summer has drawn attention to the industry for all the wrong reasons.
In an utterly ill-informed and humourless column for the Toronto Star, Linwood Barclay wrote: “So Toronto can’t attract the Olympics, and it’s not at the top of the list of everyone’s favourite vacation spots, and it hasn’t got enough money to keep the Sheppard subway line running, but at last, there’s some good news. Toronto is to be the host city for the International Truck Rollover Games, and if that’s not cause for celebration, I don’t know what would be.”
OPP spokesman Cam Woolley was on the scene of many of the rollovers and at one point called for the mandatory use of electronic stability systems.
“I think there’s technology there that can help us,” he told media following one well-publicized rollover on the 401 near Keele. In that accident, the driver was severely burned after flipping a tanker truck carrying 40 tonnes of hot tar. Media reports initially blamed the truck driver for the accident, but his father called Truck News to set the record straight.
“He was obviously cut off,” the father said, noting that police investigators found the truck driver made an evasive maneuver before flipping. The driver continues to recover in hospital, where he has been placed in a medically-induced coma. Passersby are credited with saving his life – one motorist in particular sustained serious burns to his own hands as he held the trucker’s head out of the tar.
The trucker’s father said he is grateful for the rescue efforts of witnesses, yet frustrated by the fact the media and police rushed to blame his son.
“My son’s laying in the hospital in critical condition and they make these comments,” he said.
At one point during the summer, the Ontario Trucking Association was forced to come to the defence of the industry and clear the air on the causes of the rollovers. The association offered to help educate four-wheelers on how to share the road with trucks.
“The trucking industry does not shy away from its responsibility to operate safely; ours is one of the few industries that shares its workplace with the public so this is a responsibility we must bear,” OTA president David Bradley said in a release. “As a class, truck drivers are the safest drivers on our highways and trucks are the safest vehicles. That does not mean we can rest on our laurels or simply blame motorists; we’re prepared to do our bit, we’d like to see more of the people our drivers share the road with take more responsibility and learn how to drive around big trucks.”
“We looked at serious injury and fatalities and of the 50 that involved tractor-trailers and cars, one-sixth were the fault of the truck driver and the rest were the car driver’s fault,” Woolley told local media. “The most common were unsafe lane changes by both parties.”
Nonetheless, the Ontario Safety League has called on the province to establish a task force to further explore what is behind the summer’s rash of rollovers.
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