My name is Joe Daniel. I am the President of OPSEU Local 506 that represents the largest number of Transportation Enforcement Officers in the Greater Toronto Area. In response to a recent CBC story, I have posted an article on our Web site www.opseu506.ca. The article is reproduced here:
Last Thursday night (Sept. 14, 2006) a tragic incident of a flying tire killing an innocent mother of three on the QEW brings out the worst fear some of us have when using our highways.
The CBC news report quoted that flying tire incidents have decreased by 58% – from 215 in 1997 to 90 in 2005. It is significant to note that since 2001 (the year with the lowest wheel separation incidents reported at 65), there has been a gradual increase in the number of reported incidents.
In other words, wheel-off incidents are on the increase since 2001. Lately, I’ve heard some rumblings that within a span of the last two weeks, there have been four wheel-off incidents reported in the Greater Toronto Area alone. In the aftermath of the fatality involving flying tires, why is the ministry keeping such incidents under wrap?
We also know while the vast majority of companies comply with the law, some truckers do not report all wheel-off incidents especially when they know they can get away with it. What are some of the reasons why wheel separation is on the increase?
I can think of a few. They are: We do not have enough officers to stop and inspect the trucks. Despite promises and program reviews, we are still short approximately 65 officers. Twenty-four/seven truck inspection stations are just a name only – they are closed more than they are open. Not all weigh scales are open on statutory holidays – but truck traffic doesn’t stop on those days. MTO’s so-called Business Performance Plan (BPP) otherwise known among officers as The Quota system tilts the pendulum on the side of numbers and as a result, selection and quality of inspection suffers. MTO’s focus on Level 3 inspection instead of full Level 1 inspection. Higher fuel costs and other operational costs mean that some operators will cut corners on maintenance if they can get away with it. Higher insurance costs. And lack of political direction and focus on the program.
Politicians must change the law to make it mandatory for anyone to report all wheel-off incidents. At the moment, some of the wheel-off incidents reported to the police do not seem to appear in the ministry statistics. The only way we can improve road safety is through political will with a vision for the future rather than reacting to incidents. All we ask is to provide us with the resources to make Ontario roads the safest in the world.
President, OPSEU Local 506
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