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Letter: Action needed now to make northern highways safe

'Post signs every 100 km along the roadway with a phone number indicating how to report an erratic transport operator that is causing unsafe practices'
transport accident algonquin and bypass anon 2 12016

I wish to submit this letter to the editor, regarding the safety of all travellers using highways 11/17 in Northern Ontario.

As a safety professional, I have seen many "close calls" regarding transports and personal vehicles while driving on the mentioned highways (one being this past Nov. 10, 2023, where a transport in front of me, decided to pass a school bus while it was stopped with red lights flashing, while picking up a student just three kilometres from the Town of Hearst).

As per the efforts put forward by Travis McDougall (Trucker's for safer highways), I totally sympathize with his concerns (my eldest son is a transport driver and the stories he tells me are horrifying) and hope that his voice is heard.

See: Maintain northern highways demand 'Truckers for Safer Highways'

I have in the past submitted letters to NDP MPP Superior North Lise Vaugeois, asking for a solution to this "out of control" pandemic that is endangering motorists. It has been several months since my last letter and have yet to see any progress in the matter by way of the various resources put forward to her office or by the media. 

She mentions that for years, we've been telling the MTO about the critical need for highway safety. The mentioning is great but, there needs to be action " now" - today! MPP Guy Bourgouin, also mentioned how bad these highways are.

The MTO is lacking in inspections (roadside spot checks and stations). My question is why, and who is to be held accountable when an incident/accident happens.

I have several thoughts to share that may be helpful, and they are:

  1. Create an incentive for acquiring new MTO inspectors
  2. Have roadside inspections performed more regularly, with the stations operating 24/7 during peak driving hours (include after midnight times as well).
  3. Have private training organizations perform the training for companies requesting the need for training but only those organizations approved by the Government after being screened and background checked.
  4. Have the trainer or inspector provide a record of his/her training/inspection experience. Example: how many inspections have they encountered and what is their training pass/failure rate? This will tell how good they are at their job.
  5. Prevent newly formed trucking companies from training and "passing" their employees - call in a third party. As for the trucking companies that have been around for decades, have them monitored (yearly) to see that their training tactics are up to date and following Government standards.
  6. Prevent a transport operator from having 4-5 occupants in his cab (causes distractions) which at times those occupants are not licensed but do drive (there have been incidents in Nipigon, Ontario where the O.P.P. conducted a roadside check and found that the person in operation was not licensed). Most trucking companies allow 2 licensed operators in a cab for long haul runs as well as the operator taking his spouse or friend for companionship on short runs.
  7. Have the goods receiver report any cause for concern regarding frequently being late for deliveries, having an unsecured load, and noticing mechanical defects while at the depot such as; damaged hood, broken lights/mirrors, leaking hydraulic lines, etc.
  8. Post signs every 100 km along the roadway with a phone number indicating how to report an erratic transport operator that is causing unsafe practices.

The questions to be answered would be the truck company name, license plate number, type of load on the trailer, and the time/date/location of the occurrence (take a photo if it is safe to do so).

Finally, in the safety world, we must "talk-the-talk" and "walk-the-walk"!

If we do not take action to solve the root cause, more people will perish, roadways will be suddenly closed and people such as myself will be paranoid about travelling on such great highways.

You may be the best driver in the world but you cannot prevent the event of an accident or "close call" if the other driver is inexperienced or they are busy focusing on something inside the vehicle while operating it.

Gary Kader,