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What is behind the rash of truck rollovers in the GTA?

FERGUS, Ont. - A recent series of high-profile rollovers in the GTA has left many commuters feeling panicked about sharing the highways with big trucks. The chaos that follows these destructive and of...





FERGUS, Ont. – A recent series of high-profile rollovers in the GTA has left many commuters feeling panicked about sharing the highways with big trucks. The chaos that follows these destructive and often deadly crashes can sometimes resemble a lynch mob, ready to hang the trucking industry for its on-road sins. Suggested solutions have included divided highways and a rush hour ban for big rigs. The Ontario Safety League has since called for the creation of a joint provincial task force to look at ways to prevent such accidents and the Ontario Trucking Association is once again offering to educate the public on road sharing with trucks. But what is really at the root of the rollover problem? Truck News went to the Fergus Truck Show (for full Fergus coverage, see pages 55-58) to ask drivers what they think is behind the latest rash of rollovers in the GTA.

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Jim Langford, a driver with Riverdale Poultry Express based out of London, Ont., says that car drivers are at fault with most truck rollovers, as they show no respect for truck drivers.

“You’ve got too many cars racing to the interchanges, racing to go anywhere they can, and they’re cutting trucks off and getting tangled up with them and the drivers have nowhere to go (in traffic). It’s a virtual parking lot,” Langford says.

Though Langford admits that not all truck drivers are “angels” on the highway, he says most are decent drivers that keep an eye on the traffic around them and leave appropriate amounts of space.

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Peter Wallace, a 37-year veteran driver with New England Motor Freight, says many truck rollovers are caused by speeding and inexperience on behalf of the truck driver.

“I think a lot of them going out there are not trained in the first place properly,” he admits.

Wallace says many drivers are unaware of how to properly handle unstable loads, like tankers, on tight corners and ramps. “(Tankers are) too top-heavy. You just can’t play around. You’ve got to take it easy.”

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Mike Guiry, a driver with Hyndman Transport in Wroxeter, Ont., says a combination of poorly maintained equipment, speed and improper training contribute to rollovers.

“Speed is a factor when they’re in the corners and stuff, just being stupid and a lot of that comes down to driver training and the recruitment programs that these companies have that will just put a body behind the wheel,” he says.

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Brian Hitchcock, sometimes driver and owner of MDH Trucking in Webberville, Mich., says that speed always plays the biggest factor with truck rollovers.

“If it’s a mis-marked exit ramp or a mis-marked curve, the driver’s not aware, it could be a top-heavy load, but in a rollover situation, if you go slower you won’t roll over; that’s a plain and simple fact. But in most rollovers, there’s a load shifting situation which overtakes the whole unit,” he says.

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Mike Ladobruck, an owner/operator with Bison Transport based out of Winnipeg, Man., says that many drivers have had rollover scares over the years by taking corners too quickly, but says the main issue is still inexperience. Ladobruck says many drivers get their licences too quickly and find themselves in overwhelming situations.

“I think that would probably be 70% of it. The other 30% is just average people screwing up,” he says. “I know with Bison’s technology on their equipment, they have more of an anti-rollover system where it cuts the fuel, applies the brakes on each side. I think that’s a good initiative, but it all comes down to…what’s going on in their head?”


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