Ontario Says It’s Listening to Truckers
Last evening I took part in a focus group on truck safety in Ontario.
The Ontario Government is trying to figure out how it can prevent truck accidents. They haven’t yet figured out there are no accidents, they’re either incidents or wrecks but never accidents.
The first question from the moderator was what is the only thing the government has done in the name of safety that wasn’t? The resounding and almost unison response from the assembled (all commercial drivers) was “The 105”. The “105”, of course, referring to the Speed Limiter law.
The next issue that was big on the minds of this particular group of participants in this focus group was the “split sleeper birth” issue or now, lack thereof. Back in the day drivers could drive four hours on, four hours off and in this way could avoid traffic congestion by simply waiting it out. When one is paid by the mile, the norm in the industry, why are they forced to waste valuable earning time stuck in stop and go traffic. The sleeper berth split allowed them to wait the traffic out resting, then travel forward at highway speed. But, now, they are forced to waste a lot of travel time in traffic, then try to make up the difference by going beyond their personal limits to catch themselves up.
In the two hour discussion, there were a lot of reminiscences of incidents in which the attendees had been involved and the reasons for them. It seemed that when split sleeper berth was allowed, there were less severe incidents as we see today; that drivers are being forced to drive tired for longer periods of time. The half hour mandated rest period just isn’t enough. Many people who are not truckers take naps, when a trucker needs to take a nap instead of being able to do so has to fight through or crash and crash is often the result. Not because the trucker crashes but because he/she isn’t as “on” as they should be and circumstances too often missed.
It was pointed out that truckers are the safest drivers on the road without a doubt.
Other issues pointed out was: snow removal, or lack thereof; truck-train collisions; training – particularly Ontario’s MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) program about to be implemented; better mandatory training for non commercial drivers; and probably another half dozen issues being overlooked in this summation.
The focus group didn’t even mention the usual expensive infrastructure projects governments enjoy building in the name of safety when the electorate knows it’s not about safety but building legacy for politicians.