Rein in killer trucks on Ontario highways

By Frank Touby

They are called tractor trailers and they are the deadliest vehicles on our roads, responsible for a fifth of all road vehicle wrecks.

Yet Ontario and other provinces fail to properly regulate and rein in these highway terrors.

The challenges to tractor trailer drivers are many and driver responses to those tribulations too often cost life and limb to other highway users.

A major cause of truck-driver abuse is commercial demand for just-in-time delivery. That’s aimed at saving large retailers and other merchants from paying to warehouse merchandise.

The idea is to have a truck deliver merchandise just in time for it to be placed on their shelves before they run out. Thus, no warehousing costs to retailers; just costs in lives lost on the highways as harried drivers rush to deliver their loads “just in time” for stores to restock their shelves.

Ontario can and must outlaw the practise and impose big penalties for violations. Threaten to take away the profit from a driver’s purse and compliance will be assured. Further assurance would be to charge the driver’s corporate employer for his or her violation.

Another cause of highway horrors involving big trucks is their drivers taking turns passing each other, mainly to counter the ennui of many hours behind a wheel staring at the behind of a truck just ahead.

That, too must be outlawed. Trucks must be confined to the right-hand lane at all times and not allowed to pass other trucks except under exceptional conditions.

But it’s trucking customers’ just-in-time delivery demands and drivers’ employers demands for quick delivery so a vehicle can be immediately reused for additional deliveries that are the hidden causes of deaths.

Writes Cleveland’s attorney William B. Eadie:

If a driver is forced to falsify log books and miss required break and sleep time—or risk being fired by an unethical trucking company—is missing a stop sign due to sleepiness “driver error” or the result of dangerous business practices? Or have a heart attack because they’re so full of chemical stimulants, and would rather risk their health than other peoples’ lives by falling asleep?

Here are the top 10 “driver error” causes of crashes according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration:

  1. Failure to stop for a stop sign or signal 20%
  2. Unsafe crossing, primarily crossing traffic with insufficient headway 20%
  3. Driving while impaired by alcohol or other drug 19%
  4. Driving left of centre or into opposing traffic 17%
  5. Unsafe speed 14%
  6. Unsafe passing, primarily passing with insufficient headway 13%
  7. Crossing a lane line near the side of a truck or trailer while passing 12 %
  8. Unsafe turning, primarily turning with insufficient headway 10 %
  9. Nearly striking an unattended or parked truck at roadside 9 %
  10. Nearly striking the rear of a truck or trailer that is stopped or moving slowly in traffic 8%

Attorney Eadie offers these safety tips to automobile drivers:

While safety agencies and truck crash lawyers try to keep trucks, truck drivers and trucking companies operating safely, you can take steps to avoid causing a crash:

  • Avoid driving in a truck’s blind spot
  • Avoid cutting in front of a truck
  • Avoid following a truck too closely
  • Always pass on the left side of a truck