CTA calls new traffic injury research survey anti-truck

OTTAWA, (March 24, 2004) — The Canadian Trucking Alliance has come out swinging in protest of a recent report published by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation that finds two thirds of Canadians are concerned over fatigue and drug use by Canadian truck drivers.

The survey — which was sponsored by the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada — states 70 per cent of Canadians believe that truck drivers who are tired by long hours of driving are a serious problem; and 67 per cent are very concerned about the use of drugs by truck drivers to help them stay awake. TIRF hopes the guide will be used by the government while developing road safety programs and transportation policy.

“Seventy per cent of Canadians believe truck drivers are highly skilled professionals, and most Canadians recognize the importance of commercial traffic on the roads. Nevertheless, survey respondents feel that the size and weight of these vehicles pose a threat to their safety,” said TIRF president and CEO Herb Simpson.

CTA CEO David Bradley denounced the report as a deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of the trucking industry.

“It is most unfortunate that an organization like TIRF would publish such alarmist and misleading information,” said Bradley, adding he isn’t surprised a report involving the Railway Association of Canada, which has a history of funding anti-truck lobby groups such as CRASH, would turn out to be “biased.”

“The safety performance of Canadian trucks and their drivers, had it been properly revealed to the survey respondents, would very likely have dispelled their concerns over fatigue and substance use among truck drivers. We are profoundly disappointed that TIRF would overlook the real safety facts.”

Bradley noted that Transport Canada’s own reports are at extreme odds with what TIRF reports are the perceptions of the general Canadian public. “While the survey results show a quite negative view of trucks, it doesn’t square with what is actually happening out on the highways,” he said in a press release.

Government statistics show driver fatigue was a factor in only 1.3 per cent of fatal collisions involving commercial vehicles. In addition, commercial drivers involved in fatal collisions were determined to be driving properly 80 per cent of the time. Moreover, there is no evidence to conclude truck drivers use any sort of drugs specifically to stay awake, and accident statistics show that truck drivers are far less likely to consume drugs or alcohol than is the general motoring public, Bradley said. Only 0.6 of Canadian cross-border drivers randomly tested for drugs to comply with U.S. law tested positive, while 0.07 of truck drivers tested positive for alcohol.

Bradley went on to say that the CTA supports random drug testing of drivers for Canadian operations, but such a regulation has been blocked for years by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The TIRF report stated 64 per cent of respondents support random drug and alcohol testing for truck drivers.

Other finding in the TIRF report indicate:

That 81 per cent of Canadians support a zero alcohol limit for truck drivers; 77 per cent support more frequent mechanical inspections for commercial vehicles; and 63 per cent support license testing of commercial operators every five years. The study also stated the safety risk posed by the number of large trucks on the road is of greater concern to respondents in Quebec and the Atlantic region than to those in British Columbia and the Prairie provinces.

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