OTTAWA, Ont. — A recent poll conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) has found that many Canadian drivers do not believe driver training programs for passenger vehicles provide adequate education about sharing the road with large trucks.
The survey, conducted in September and October, found that 62.4% of respondents did not believe training is adequate, with 20.2% of respondents stating they didn’t know whether training is adequate or not.
“Perhaps not surprisingly, a majority of the respondents (60.2%) supported requirements to test drivers of passenger cars to see if they know how to safely share the road with large trucks before obtaining a driver’s licence,” said Ward Vanlaar, vice-president of research at TIRF.
When asked about safe driving practices when sharing the road with a large truck, the majority of respondents (64.2%) believed that they knew the minimum distance a driver should leave between their vehicle and a large truck. A majority (77.2%) of respondents also answered that they knew where the truck driver’s blind spots are.
“What was unexpected was that a reasonably large number of Canadians admit they actually do not know about these safe driving practices (35.8% and 22.8% respectively),” says Vanlaar. “In light of these findings, perhaps it should not be surprising that so many Canadians believe driver training for sharing the road with large trucks is inadequate.”
TRIF officials suggest that the concern over training adequacy may be warranted since the number of fatal collisions has not changed much between 2000 and 2006, suggesting a plateau has been reached. Furthermore, the number of injury crashes involving large trucks substantially increased between 2001 and 2005 from 7,802 to 9,366, according to reports.
“Despite a slight decrease in 2006 to 9,066 injury crashes, the problem seems to be more pronounced among certain types of large trucks,” says Vanlaar. “More annual data are needed to confirm whether this decrease in 2006 will continue in the future.”
When asked about concerns regarding large trucks, Canadian drivers are concerned with driver fatigue and long Hours-of-Service (69.7%), vehicles not meeting safety standards (67.1%), and speeding (63.8%). Vanlaar notes that while concern is warranted, both government agencies and industry have been taking steps to address these concerns, including new Hours-of-Service regulations, and the use of speed limiters and electronic on-board recorders.
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