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Transport truck safety called into question after Hwy. 400 crash

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

At least three people were killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on Highway 400 Tuesday night, which police believe was caused by a transport truck driver.

Just six days ago, the head of the Ontario Provincial Police force Vince Hawkes held a news conference to express concerns about a spike in crashes involving transport trucks and put truck drivers “on notice” for being inattentive while behind the wheel.

Speaking at the scene of the 14-vehicle collision, Hawkes said the trucking industry should take a close look at the way it conducts business. He said truck drivers are unable to brake for slow or stopped traffic if they are texting, eating or watching TV while behind the wheel.

“These truck are, in essence, missiles travelling down the highway with contents in those trucks that as a result of a crash that happens further upstream… we’ll see the devastation like you see today… and the trend seems to be getting worse” he said.

Provincial police say that since Jan. 1, there have been more than 5000 transport truck related collisions that have left 67 people dead.

The head of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) was quick to defend both drivers and the industry over its role in transporting dangerous goods. He interprets Hawkes’ comments as focused on “the bad apples.”

“The Ontario Trucking Association, the Ministry of Transportation and the OPP believe that strategic enforcement with regards to whether its mechanical fitness, although we have a high performance of mechanical fitness, or driver related issues, should focus on that small percentage of carriers that are not following the law,” he said.

According to the OTA, mechanical and technological improvements such as speed limit and stability controls have made trucks safer. It says there has been a 66 per cent decrease in the fatality rate from large truck collisions, despite a 75 per cent increase in large truck vehicle registrations in the past decade.

However, the OPP say a quarter of all fatal collisions they investigate involve a commercial vehicle. On Wednesday, the Ontario Safety League called for a coroner’s inquest into highway safety.

Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said the ministry will cooperate fully if an inquest is called for.

“I welcome any initiative or undertaking that will help produce the outcome that everybody, the travelling public need in the province of Ontario which is road safety,” he said “If the coroner decides to go in the direction of an inquest the Ministry of Transportation will be happy to provide whatever is required.”

“Any death on the highway that’s preventable should be prevented” added Premier Kathleen Wynne. “So we will continue to work to make sure we do everything possible to prevent this kind of tragedy happening again.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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