OSL calls for Ontario coroner’s review following spate of highway crashes

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Ontario Safety League (OSL) president Brian Patterson was already concerned about collisions on Ontario highways, but the crash involving a truck that plowed into a road crew was the final straw.

Two people were sent to hospital just after midnight on Jan. 18 after the transport hit the back of a sign truck on the QEW near Beamsville, despite clearly blocked center and left lanes. The 22-year-old truck driver was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, while a 39-year-old member of the road crew was left with serious injuries.

Patterson penned a letter to Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore, asking for a review into what he sees as an increase in commercial collisions.

“It just seemed like there was five crashes in the last three weeks, and all of them had the word ‘preventable’ all over them,” Patterson told TruckNews.com. “That guy plowed into the back of a fully lit truck that had been up for hours, and 10,000 cars passed it safely.”

“Public safety partners and related organizations could be called upon to assist. The MTO [Ontario Ministry of Transportation] Enforcement and Engineering Divisions have considerable data and expertise to support this review. The OPP and municipal police resources would be available to aid this,” he said in the letter to Moore.

Role of an Ontario coroner’s review

“We could cover both general and/or commercial driver training, driver experience, and related issues of fatigue or impairment. We should act now – and the entire public, including pedestrians, cyclists, all road users will benefit,” he added. “The lives saved will support any expenditure of funds required.”

Like a coroner’s inquest that involves a jury, a review still considers expert advice and makes recommendations, Patterson said in an interview. Such advice could come from sources as diverse as industry associations and training experts, he added. “It doesn’t point the finger at anybody.”

The coroner has already helped address underlying issues behind fires, cycling safety, and pedestrian safety, Patterson added.

Looking at commercial crashes, he wonders if the length of time a driver holds a particular licence class makes a difference. But only a review would generate the data to offer a clear look at the issues, he said.

“I’m not focusing on commercial-only. We’re talking about [G Class] drivers and commercial drivers. Are the incidents on the highway involving new G drivers coming into contact with commercial drivers? Nobody’s looked.”

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • OMGosh I have so much to say. I live in St. Catharines and got stuck in this latest tragedy, while driving to my dentist in Burlington, usually a 35 minute drive on the QEW. I have driven motor coach for 25 years, so I feel well qualified to have an educated opinion. When I hear, ‘more training may be needed’ I go through the roof. If the public knew we can drive 14 hours in a 16 hour window ( borrow an hour) in Canada, I think they’d be concerned. That’s one point.
    Point 2: emergency vehicle have so many lights on them that I’m blinded when passing them, even crawling passed an accident I have to move my eyes away so I can maneuver pass, especially on a rainy night.
    Point 3: road markings are sloppy and poorly maintained in many areas, especially construction.
    Point 4: Pedestrians should be taught that they do not have the right of way. School areas would be a good area to start this training.
    Point 5: when work is assigned, companies need to take into account each driver’s preference, some drivers like the light traffic of night, others drivers simple struggle
    at night.
    Final point, vehicles are driven by humans, sadly there will be human errors, some will end in life changing events, I hate that part. But in my opinion we need to not focus solely on the drivers, we need to focus on the whole picture, the people that have been charged with making our roadways safer, ( adding more lights on a police car makes things worse not better) pedestrians and the companies that assign work.
    I’m aware that this latest accident involving a work crew is tragic, I drove by it and was stunned by the trucks damage, if this driver nodded off then more driver training is not the sole answer, it’s a combination of my points above.

  • All over the country these crashes are happening.
    Mostly caused by poorly trained immigrant drivers that come from countries with a whole different culture of driving. They are hired by companies that basically take a steering wheel holder and team them up with another inexperienced driver and send them out. This doesn’t excuse the lack of common sense in driving a truck. It’s time for graduated licenses, new drivers should be with a driver with no less than 2 years experience. The big companies must be held to a higher level of accountability. After 34 years , 6 million kilometers, I had about had enough of the dangerous drivers, there is no lane discipline, there is to much tailgating and dangerous passing. Lost lives are not worth warm bodies filling seats because of so called driver shortage. Stop paying by the mile, go to hourly and retain your experienced drivers.

  • I think that the government should require all auto manufactures to install cell phone blocking devices which are available to reduce the largest contributor to distracted driving.

    A study done in the US reports more than 2,800 people died and 400,000 were injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. People are still driving distracted despite these staggering figures, however. A January 2020 survey observed 2,000 people’s driving behaviors, and 37.1 percent of the respondents said that mobile device distractions impact the user’s ability to drive safely, but 28.6 percent of those respondents admitted that texting was their number one distracted driving behavior

  • I’ve been trucking for over 34 years without incident, and I have never seen so many wrecks, just in the last 5 years as, as I have in my entire career.
    The study should start with the statistical data on how many wrecks each ethnic group has, it will be plain to see which one has the most.
    All driver’s that come from other countries, bring their driving habits with them.
    I have said for years, all truck driver training should start in a shop for 3 months, shadowing a mechanic to gain a clearer understanding on the mechanics of a truck, then a backing up class for a month, learning how to back up straight trailers and super B’s, then drive with someone for 2 months or more with a driver that’s had more than 3 weeks of training themselves.
    I have spoke to many east Indian driver’s that tell me they are trying someone new and they themselves have only been driving for a month.
    All of you so-called policy makers need to get in the field and see this stuff first had, those are the statistics you’ll get that cannot be disputed.

  • This type of thing has been happening almost daily on northern Ontario highways for the past few years. “Preventable” is the key word.

  • You can dance around it all you want but everyone on our highways knows the reason why.

    Many of these drivers are not qualified to drive here at all.
    And I’ve taken actual pictures of trucks coming in to my workplace with loads not tied down at all and the transports in a total state of disrepair, I’ve phoned and sent those pics to the head of the MTO and my MPP’S and they turn a blind eye.

    I quit trucking 3 years ago because the trucking industry is a complete joke now. I’m embarrassed to even tell anyone I was in the industry.

    It’s also no surprise why our insurance rates are so high.

    I travel between the Sault and White River every week and almost every guard rail has a whole through it. It’s scary now even driving a pickup dodging transports over the centre line and even many car drivers.

    I can’t even imagine how these big fleets can even afford to operate with these drivers.

  • I find as a Professional Long haul Transport driver, since elogs have been used more and more there’s more Truck crashes since, Truck drivers are humans, not robots, but are required to operate as if they are robots, not enough research with “actual drivers” has been done, in my opinion, since elogs have come out I find myself rushing to beat the clock now, faster driving , no time to stop for a good meal, and having to stop so close to home or a customer , even when trip has been planned properly, I’ve since come off elogs and am way more relaxed now, no issues at the scales yet, but I know it’s a matter of time when I will have to go back on them unfortunately. Jeff

  • Too many drivers either on their phones texting or just not paying attention.
    No excuse for running into anything lit up like a Christmas tree with flashing lights.

  • We need safe parking for tired truck drivers at receivers or other safe spots. We need better training and a better understanding of english by many truck drivers
    I think we should have hourly overtime and a min dock rate of $50 cd to the truck or $36,30 to a corp driver inc or $28 to a payroll driver in ont
    We need to stop fines for late deliveries if the driver is tired or needs to stop because weather or if he is close to running out of time by time he will be unloaded. I have to crawl on wet yards on my hands sometimes to do deliveries
    The security gets very upset but will fine us if we need to change the del time
    We need a program so sick and injured drivers do not push because lack of medical and other help needed in ont.

  • First thing I noticed in the picture was that the truck was not a cross border piece of equipment. 2nd was why was the truck travelling in the left lane if that is where the repairs were taking place. 3rd was why is a 22 year old driver from Kitchener on this particular roadway at midnight. Have the MTO checked out his on duty time yet.

  • They drive too fast most of the time.
    I am in Montréal, Québec and it is very rare that I see a professional driver or heavy truck observing the speed limit & not tailgating.
    You would think the price of the fuel must have been reduced considering all the articles about the high price of fuel.
    Those drivers are speeding in all weather conditions.
    Where is the training ???
    We have accidents involving heavy trucks in & around Montréal almost every day.

  • Well if individuals regardless of whatever data is derived from any so called expert review would only be able to see from a commercial driver’s seat (birds eye view) they’d be able to see that most crashes or even potential ones that are often near misses they’d be able to see that these are often asinine actions from mostly individuals in cars, and yes some trucks.
    I see it everyday, cars whizzing past us in trucks crossing 3 laens of traffic just to get off at an exit in front of a truck when there’s literally no traffic behind abd they could have executed their intentions safely/safer behind. I see it as most of the motoring public as they don’t want to be behind a truck, or they just don’t use this often elusive action called common sense. Common sense it seems in both realms both in truck drivers and car drivers is nearly extinct or non existent today with the current demographics, culture, and attitudes.
    I often wonder individuals who act quite recklessly in conducting these dangerous moves while driving any vehicle particularly a car how they live to see another day. They haven’t a clue how much they’ve cheated death one more day.

  • These tips maybe can help by Amizur Nachshoni:
    Improved driver training and education.
    Increased enforcement of traffic laws and regulations.
    Installation of advanced safety technologies in trucks, such as collision avoidance systems and lane departure warnings.
    Implementation of speed limiters on trucks to prevent excessive speeding.
    Increased use of data and analytics to identify and address high-risk areas and behaviors.
    Encouraging the use of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology to improve traffic flow and reduce collisions.

  • I started driving in 1968 and ran north america hard for 15 years pretty much accident free and I still have trucks today. Until recently still drove a bit to fill in for a driver off but won’t no more. Back in the days we use to drive the truck but today with bigger power, speed limiters and the automatic tranny’s the guys are falling asleep at 107km per hour.
    What the fix is i don’t know but i feel it is going to get worse before it gets better. I can see autonomous trucks on 400 series hiways before much longer with today’s technology.