TORONTO, Ont. — The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and its road safety partners – the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Provincial Police – have established two committees to address highway clearance procedures and strategic truck safety enforcement.
“Working with the OPP and MTO in a formal setting to develop joint goals and strategies on these issues will have multiple benefits for our industry and the public,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski. “By working together our organizations will more effectively execute our mandates to improve highway safety.”
In a letter agreeing to OTA’s request to establish a 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.
OTA maintains that while the industry strives to eliminate mechanical defects linked with collisions, they remain extremely low (below 2%); and to truly improve highway safety industry and enforcement should increase attention and resources on driver behavior of all road users like distracted driving and aggressive driving.
In response OPP’s Blair stated:
“We agree with the position of the OTA that while we must remain vigilant in addressing mechanical fitness for heavy trucks, we strongly believe that there are areas related to commercial driver behavior that requires our focus to improve. 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…Addressing this issue and other drivers’ behavior as identified in your letter is a priority for our respective organizations.
‘Meanwhile all the three parties, along with the Ontario Recovery Group (ORG), have established a committee that will meet in the coming weeks to develop a highway clearance policy that speeds up cleanup of commercial vehicle collisions while also protecting carriers from ill-trained and unscrupulous tow truck operators.’
OTA will be proposing an Uber-like app which would allow police and enforcement officials to quickly call to the accident scene the closest approved tow truck operator or the carrier’s contracted tow-recovery company. To gain access to the app, recovery companies and their drivers would have to be approved, properly qualified and receive training that is developed and approved by ORG and government officials.
In correspondence to OTA, Blair said he is encouraged by the opportunity to discuss these issues.
“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.”