In early April the OPP released the statistics for fatal collisions on road ways patrolled by the OPP in 2017. The stats indicated the OPP responded to 68,794 collisions in 2017, 304 of which were fatal. This marked the highest number of road fatalities in 5 years. 76 of these 304 fatal collisions involved Commercial Vehicles (25 percent), resulting in 91 deaths. These numbers represent a 10 year high for fatal collisions involving CMV’s. While the stats do not indicate who was at fault, one thing is clear, we all have work to do to continue to promote and improve road safety.
This point was driven home even further with the tragic accident involving the Humboldt Bronco’s on April 6th, which at the time of writing this article, had resulted in 16 deaths. The accident itself was still being investigated by the RCMP as I write this.
Most of us have been taught over the years, and I am a firm believer of this, all accidents are preventable. There are of course several factors and conditions that can lead to accidents, that are beyond the control of the driver. Did a poorly designed construction zone contribute to the collision? Improper Intersection design? Insufficient road maintenance? Sudden weather change, such as a snowsquall causing a whiteout? These are just a few examples of conditions that are beyond the control of a driver that may have contributed to an accident. No matter what the circumstance however, the biggest factor in any accident, is still human behaviour and error. I think we can all agree, that no one gets in their vehicle, heads out on the road, and intends to go out and cause an accident. Most of us are just trying to get to and from where we need or want to go, and some, like truck drivers, are doing it to make a living and provide for their loved ones and deliver the products and services that our loved ones need or want to make their lives easier. In spite of this, these accidents do continue to occur, and likely always will, as no perfect human has ever been made, and we all make mistakes. Because of this, we must never let our guard down, and we must continually strive to improve the safety of our roadways, by whatever means necessary, to make them as safe as possible.
Distracted and aggressive driving has become an issue that seems to be getting worse with every passing year, from all road users, and CMV operators are not immune from this. It is a societal problem that is an epidemic on our roadways. To continue to improve road safety, it will take a multi faceted approach, from all segments, with several stakeholders and partners working together. This requires all partners to look internally and admit their faults. We in the Trucking Industry are part of this process. We should all be proud of the safety record of this industry, but at the same time we need to investigate our warts, and be willing to find ways to remove, or improve those in our industry who don’t want to play by the rules. It is always easiest to point the finger of blame elsewhere, but the biggest effect on safety we will ever have, is by changing our own behaviours, and helping others improve theirs.
You will be glad to know, the very thing I am talking about above is being worked on. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the Ontario Provincial Police, and several Trucking Industry Representatives and Associations, have been working together since the fall of 2017 to come up with a way of improving the safety of our roadways. No stone is being left unturned, ego’s and agenda’s have been checked at the door, and the groups are simply trying to do what they can to promote the safest roads possible. I have been lucky enough to be involved in this process and have been thoroughly impressed by all. It is great to see the different sectors, who can sometimes be thought of as being at odd’s, all working towards the same common goal. Out of this group will come great strategies and forward thinking plans to achieve the results of improvement we hope to see. Some area’s being looked at are Enforcement, Monitoring, Technology & Infrastructure, Public Education & Communication, Research & Data & training. All of us working together is the best way to get results!