TORONTO, Ont. – The Views on News Question of the Month was created to give truckers a direct say on key industry issues. If last month’s response is any indication, you clearly have a lot to say.
A spectacular two-truck crash which shut down Hwy. 401, the nation’s busiest highway, for hours in late September created quite the stir in industry as well as government circles.
Government announced it would step up safety blitzes and was considering a tougher safety rating system.
The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) countered that government should instead pursue the “bottom feeders” who give the industry a bad name. The OTA also called for a crackdown on truck driver “licence mills.”
We wanted to know what the people behind the wheel as well as those who run trucking companies thought of the government’s plans to step up inspections and made that our Views on News Question of the Month in the November issue of Truck News. It quickly became apparent that the question touched on an issue close to your hearts and a source of much of your frustration with driving conditions on Canada’s highways.
In addition to answering the question on www.trucknews.com by choosing one of the four options made available, many of you felt strongly enough about this issue to go to the extra effort of including your comments.
Highlights of those comments are included below and we promise to bring your concerns to the attention of the government.
Government, large carriers and their associations to blame
We observed the press was quick to point fingers over the recent truck crashes on Ontario’s Hwy. 401.
And, of course, (Ontario Trucking Association president)David Bradley was once again blaming everyone but the true culprits.
He states that “bottom feeders” are the problem but in fact these individuals, for the most part, are only small business owners who set their rates to compete with those set by large trucking companies which approach shippers and quote rates so low that only they, due to their economies of scale, can realize a profit. So, in effect, the big truckers set the rate.
As to his reference to “licence mills,”yes, there are licence mills, because of demand from shippers and large trucking firms for a lowest-cost solution to labour. The real problem is with the Ministry of Transport, which uses outdated testing methods and examiners. Aside from exhibiting bad attitudes and other obstreperous personality traits, these examiners, for the most part, only have a commercial truck licence because the Ministry grandfathered it to them or, as in one case I am privy to, the examiner was allowed to use a one-ton pickup truck and a fifth wheel livestock carrier as the test vehicle for his A licence.
Point is the majority of examiners do not have even a year’s experience as a truck driver and the actual test needs to be bought up to the current needs.
Perhaps if the Ministry, Mr. Bradley who represents large trucking firms, and shippers would take a look at what they contributed toward this mess then we might have safer highways.
We need more inspectors and 24/7 scales
The Views on News questionnaire did not have in my opinion all the options.
Another option which could be included is to increase the number of MTO officers who do the inspections. The scales that are “inbound” Toronto should be open 24/7. They are protecting a major metropolitan community. They should also have more MTO officers patrolling the by-pass routes which the real bad trucks/operators use to avoid the scales.
The fault is in the design of the ramps
Because a driver lost control of his unit on a god forsaken patch of highway that you couldn’t walk on, never mind drive on, we all get painted with the same brush? What a crock of bull!
When I found out where the accident occurred, I knew what happened.
That is a dangerous section of the 401 with ruts two inches deep. I’m surprised no other drivers have rolled their trucks there.
I have noticed a lot of design flaws along the highway that are causing dangerous situations at the end of on-ramps.
The main reason I stay in the centre lane in that area with my 90,000 lb. load is the ramp isn’t long enough to gain speed to merge and is very dangerous for large trucks and merging cars. I know you’re saying slow down, but sometimes timing is everything.
If I slow down to 80 km/h with the weight I haul, it would take to Hwy 10 to pick up speed again, causing more backlog in the right lane.
What I’m getting at is we are supposed to have all these people with letters behind their names designing these highways who actually can’t design squat!
Thanks for letting me vent.
Stretch of highway bad even under good conditions
The crash on Hwy 401 last month might very well have been due to “fatigue” but the 401 bridge west of Yonge is such a terrible rut-covered, broken and rough surface that one has to fight the road whenever crossing this stretch of highway.
Even during good road conditions there are improperly marked “lined” lanes, some spots where there are no lines at all where I’ve seen people drift into other lanes due to the temporary confusion, and the road surface throws your truck around like a storm followed by a sharp bend that too much traffic squeezes though 24 hours a day too fast! I believe this terrible unfinished surface of road should be marked a construction zone in the express lanes as well as the collector lanes, slowing traffic in that spot on a regular basis until the surface is lined and smoothed properly.
The surface itself is dangerous and could be a possible contributor to this crash. Just drive across it yourself and see what you think.
Just a million-safe-miles driver’s opinion.
Charging the driver won’t fix the real problem
I have driven that section of road and I find it very unsafe at the best of times. The condition of the road is appalling and the government is trying to pass the buck, once again,
It’s a wonder we don’t have more accidents in that section; it seems that this section of road has become a construction project with no end in sight. So who is to blame for the road conditions? No one other than the government.You can charge the driver for the accident, but that doesn’t correct the road conditions.
Repair bills prove roads in disrepair
I’m sure some of us out there have pieced together what this crackdown is all about but for those who haven’t, try this on for size: The very next day after the two trucks collided and crippled the city for the entire day, police said there were no mechanical defects on either of the rigs that would have contributed to the accident.
Regardless, on that same day, the Ontario Minister of Transportation announced the ultimate truck crackdown as if there were mechanical defects.
I can only assume that this type of politics is in an effort to deflect the negative criticism that started to boil over in the industry about the condition of this stretch of roadway, and many others, due to lack of funding.
About three years ago two trucks collided at that very same spot and shut down the 401 for the day. Then there is the stretch of 401 at Brock Rd., which has also had its share of wrecks.
In this case, not just because the road is badly grooved but also because the underpass is very old and becomes abruptly narrow (be prepared to have your mirrors taken off.)
You would think the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO)could do the right thing for a change and warn commuters about the location of the risky sections of roadways, but instead it’s that same old “all is well” and “those damn truckers.”
I guess it’s easier for the MTO to fall back on the same old story.
The MTO even put on a blitz on Brock Rd. recently and coincidentally came up with an astounding number of unsafe trucks.
This regardless of t
he fact that MTO has been boasting the safest truck numbers in North America for the past five years.
I guess you generate whatever numbers you like when the need arises. Fifteen years ago, suspension and steering components would last five years on my truck.
Today, I’m lucky to get two years. On my last safety I replaced the tie rods after only a year.
I have the bills to prove that the roads in Ontario are in disrepair.
So let’s not pretend that it was those damn truckers again.
The safety ball is entirely in the carriers’ court
We need more carriers enforcing strict HOS, and having ALL commercial trucks (be it cube van, straight, local or whatever) obligated to use HOS log books.
The ball is in the carriers’ court to clean up the HOS, rates, and equipment.
As a broker, if I am in an inspection, most of the time it is the trailer I’m hauling (my carrier’s) that will have a defect, not my tractor.
Why are truckers treated differently?
Why is it that every time a truck is involved in an accident they talk about safety crackdowns?
When a four wheeler does something stupid that causes an accident and closes major roads we never hear about safety practices for four wheelers.