OTA, officials to meet on road safety

TORONTO, ON – With several truck collisions this month shutting down major Ontario highways for hours at a time, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), and well as the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), are working together to create safer roads, and clear them faster after a crash.

The groups announced the formation of two committees this week to address highway clearance procedures and strategic truck safety enforcement.

OTA President Stephen Laskowski said by working together the groups could develop joint goals and strategies on these issues and more effectively execute them to improve highway safety.

In a letter agreeing to the OTA’s request to establish the committee on safety enforcement that focuses on driver behavior, Brad Blair, OPP deputy commissioner, traffic safety and operational Support, confirmed that distracted driving is an issue that will be top of mind in the discussions.

Last week, in a press conference charging three more commercial vehicle drivers in summer collisions on Ontario highways, OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes, said the crashes were examples of the worst kind of inattention from drivers.

“We strongly believe that there are areas related to commercial driver behavior that requires our focus to improve,” said Blair. “While overall carrier safety continues to advance in Ontario, inattentive commercial motor vehicles drivers have emerged as a growing challenge for law enforcement in recent years.”

The OTA says it wants an increase in attention and resources on the behavior of all road users, including for habits like distracted driving and aggressive driving.

The committee will also focus on protecting carriers from ill-trained and unscrupulous tow truck operators, when discussing road clearing procedures.

The OTA says it will be proposing an “Uber-like” application which would allow police and enforcement officials to quickly call the closest approved tow truck operator or the carrier’s contracted tow-recovery company to the scene.

To gain access to the application, recovery companies and their drivers would have to be approved, properly qualified and receive training that is developed and approved by the Ontario Recovery Group and government officials.

“Restoring traffic to its normal flow as quickly as possible remains one of our most important goals. How equipment and personnel are dispatched to meet this goal remains an issue to be addressed,” said Blair.

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