Operation Safe Driver Week started on Monday with enforcement officers stepping up patrols looking for dangerous drivers on the roadways. My question is do we really need all these road safety weeks? Is this really helping us be safer?
Industry publication Truck News put out some alarming statistics about the industry noting that there is a 38% increase in accidents on the roadways in Ontario with an 800% increase in the Northeast regions. You can read the actual article here https://www.trucknews.com/health-safety/opp-concerned-about-truck-crash-rates/1003086757/. The article goes on to offer inspection statistics and information on enforcement efforts but are we getting better?
If you haven’t noticed we seem to have more safety inspection programs, more regulations, more education, yet we seem to be going in the opposite direction and honestly I don’t think more truck inspections will change the behaviour of the motoring public.
The 401 corridor is said to be one of the busiest highways in North America rivaling places like Los Angeles and Atlanta Georgia. That may not mean much to you but I still remember the morning in my driving career when I arrived in Atlanta Georgia in the middle of rush hour and said to myself I had never seen so many cars on the road, it was like a sea of vehicles. That was twenty years ago so I can only imagine what Atlanta is like today and for the 401 to be busier than Atlanta is a scary thought.
Our roadways are so busy now with everyone in a hurry to get to their destination that the chance of them being caught driving distracted, speeding, or doing anything else unlawful is a small percentage so people do it anyway, we will never have enough enforcement officers to catch everyone. By focusing on commercial vehicles enforcement officers have a directed focus and since trucks can cause a lot of damage stopping those crashes can lower fatalities in a big way. Now I certainly am not saying that truck drivers are the cause of such accidents I just think that is how enforcement agencies have tried to attack the number of accidents on our roadways. The question now becomes will it work and my gut instinct tells me it won’t.
There seems to be a push back from older drivers to get people to start at the bottom of the ladder and learn the industry from the ground up. That’s the way we used to do so in the eighties when you would work on the dock, then wash the trucks, then learn to drive. I think we can all agree that program won’t work with the current driver shortage so what do we do?
I myself believe there needs to be a mix of the old and the new. Let’s use technology to our advantage and mix in the values from former years. Let’s educate the whole population and not just one group and expect them to lower the accident rate for everyone. I don’t have all the answers but here are a few suggestions to get the conversation started:
- Add safety questions for trucks on every driver test and include general truck training in new driver classes.
- Add technology to vehicles that will block cellular signals so people can’t use their phones with the exception of emergencies while the vehicle is in motion.
- Create training programs where professionalism in the industry is part of the curriculum and is trained upon.
We all need to be working on ourselves when it comes to safety and in a world where we are all busy and in a hurry we need to monitor what we do and not rely on enforcement. It’s up to you!
About the Author
Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com