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1 in 5 fatal Ontario road crashes involves a transport truck

Significant number of collisions caused by trucks in poor operating condition
transport truck accident
A rescue worker runs a cable to an overturned truck on the Champlain Bridge leading into Montreal, June 10, 2008. Seven trailer trucks were overturned on the bridge when a severe storm passed through Montreal. REUTERS/Shaun Best

Transport truck-related collisions continue to take a significant toll on human life on Ontario roads, with one in five road crashes involving large commercial vehicles. 

"A lot can go wrong when large commercial transport trucks are not driven safely or have unsecured loads and defective equipment,” said Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) chief superintendent Chuck Cox. “Our data shows that the outcome for other vehicle occupants involved in transport truck-related collisions is often fatal and catastrophic.”

Among the 1,342 fatal motor vehicle collisions on OPP-patrolled roads between 2012 and 2016, 266 involved transport trucks. During the same five-year period, 330 people died — the majority of victims were occupants of other involved vehicles. According to OPP data, 44 of the crash victims were drivers of the transport trucks, compared to 286 victims who were in cars and other smaller vehicles.

More recent data reveals that over the past three years, a significant number of collisions were caused by transport trucks in poor operating condition. Between July 2014 and June 2017, 344 collisions involved defective transport trucks, six of which were fatal and 37 of which resulted in injuries.  

Damaged axles, blown tires or detached wheels, faulty brakes, defective hitches and unsecured loads are just some of the many factors in truck-related crashes. At times, unsecured loads or truck equipment flying into the path of other vehicles produced tragic consequences.

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Comments (5)

  • President - Marty Dol
    6/29/2017 3:16:51 PM
    Tighter restrictions are coming to Ontario training centers who providing Class AZ tractor-trailer driver training courses. Once the standard of training is consistently held much higher, we should see safer truck drivers, those willing to inspect and operate as a professional.

    In the meantime, there are strategies for travelling safely around big trucks, I should know, I used to drive one.

    Here are my top 5 tips for steering clear of big trucks, (and any debris that comes off them).

    1) The Dead Zone - never keep pace with a truck that is running alongside of you on a multi-lane highway, especially if there is no space for you to move. The best example is travelling in the far left lane with a transport to your immediate right. Should a tire blow or debris fall off, you may have no where to go.
    Tip: Wait until the car ahead has moved thru the dead zone before proceeding yourself.

    2) Passing to the Right - a professional truck driver should know who is around them at all times, and the best way they can control the right side (blindside), is to be in the far right-hand lane. Truck drivers cannot see down the entire length of the passenger side, by simply looking in their mirrors. On a multilane highway, why would anyone want to pass a truck on their right?
    Tip: If you must pass a truck to their right, flash your high beam headlights a few times, and while passing, day or night.

    3) Lane Change into Blind Spots - When changing lanes on a multilane highway, do not merge into the truck driver's blind spots. As mentioned above, either side is a bad place for your car.
    Tip: Pull up at least even with the truck drivers position before moving into the lane next to them. (For better results, pass them completely so that they can see your lane change over their hood.)

    4) Increase Your Rear Space Cushion - when passing a big truck, you should only do so if you have enough space to do so safely. Most drivers consider that if they can shoehorn their car into the space ahead of the truck, it's big enough.
    Tip: Consider several truck lengths of space before making the lane change. The last place that you want to be when your timing belt blows, is right in front of a big truck.

    5) Drafting the Big Truck - following to closely will not allow you the time to respond to hazards on the road. Just because the big truck clears the debris, doesn't mean that you will.
    Tip: Allow several truck lengths between you and the truck ahead.

    And in closing, when the weather is really bad outside, remember that every big truck driver experiences their first snow/hail/wind storm only once. The question is, Are they right beside you? Don't take it for granted that they feel in complete control, either.
  • Mr - Roger Douthwaite
    7/7/2017 8:59:52 AM
    This means 4 in 5 fatal crashes do NOT involve a transport truck!! Further analysis of the statistics found in the Ontario Road Safety Annual Report, show that the transport driver is at fault in less than 3 percent of the accidents involving these vehicles. That means that there is a 70% chance that the truck driver did not cause the fatal accident!

    In other workplaces, we demand safe behaviour from ALL users of the space. For example, fork truck drivers must be trained, licenced, and perform regular inspections of their vehicles. Many workplaces impose speed restrictions on the forklifts. In all these workplaces, all employees are expected to contribute to the safe working environment: an office worker walking in the warehouse is expected to comply with the company safety policies, and assist the fork truck operator is safety This approach works!

    Contrast that to our public highways. These are the workplace of the truck driver. We licence and train these drivers, and they are expected to regularly inspect their equipment for safety defects. Most transport drivers do their best to operate safely. However, the other users of that workplace do not contribute to the safe working environment, nor do they feel they should. Yes, the province has regulations in place, but there is no enforcement to speak of, other than announced “blitzes” two or three days as year. Our highways are rampant with vehicle operators who think the highways are their own personal go cart track, or who drive as if they are in a video game. These people disregard the Rules of the road, they disregard common sense, they disregard the safety of the other people on the road, and 9 times out of 10 they get away with it.

    How about we change our focus. Your story implies that if we target trucks, we will make a significant improvement in safety. I say you can have no fatalities involving trucks, and four out of the five fatalities will still happen. How be we focus on the 80% of accidents that don’t involve trucks? How be we have the authorities target automobile drivers, all of the time, instead of in announced blitzes? How be organizations like yours start safe driving campaigns for regular motorists, because the way we get that one in five number down is to get the four in five number down. How be we stop car manufacturers from advertising their cars by using rally drivers, and race car drivers to sell the spped and the thrill of fast driving?
    It’s easy to pick on the trucks. They are big, and crashes involving trucks are often spectacular. But truck drivers are like every other worker in Ontario – they want to go home to their families at the end of the day, and they want their workplace to be safe. We need to focus on ALL users of the “workplace” (the highways), and stop cherry-picking the visible minority.

  • Mr - Bob Fleming
    10/12/2017 6:30:51 PM
    By publishing this article, you are no better than mainstream media. Fear mongering by using incomplete statements to sensationalize data, implying that big trucks are to blame for every fatality in Ontario.

    "Among the 1,342 fatal motor vehicle collisions on OPP-patrolled roads between 2012 and 2016, 266 involved transport trucks." So only 20% (and that's rounding up) of the collisions INVOLVED a transport truck, but how many of those were the fault of the transport truck? That is an important piece of information that's missing.

    And how did we get from having 266 collisions that involved transport trucks, between 2012 and 2016, to having 344 involving vehicles with equipment issues between 2014 and 2017, when most of that time frame overlaps? There are more collisions involving equipment defects, in a shorter time frame, than there are total collisions somehow. Are these for the same jurisdiction? Where does this discrepancy come from? What percentage of the total collisions are the 344 involving equipment defects?

    Get your numbers right. Many studies based on accident statistics show that in collisions involving large commercial vehicles, it's the passenger vehicle who is at fault in the collision. That "the outcome for other vehicle occupants involved in transport truck-related collisions is often fatal and catastrophic" comes down to basic physics - 80,000 pounds vs. 3,000 is easy math.

    Yes. Load security and faulty equipment need to be addressed; however there are better ways to do it then through sensationalism. A lot of commercial carriers do everything in their power to ensure that their trucks are not involved in any collisions.

    As a professional driver for 20 years, and still in the industry, I have seen this kind of reporting far too often. I am saddened to see that this publication is stooping so low as to sensationalize this issue the same way that mainstream media does.
  • A Plane Load - BNear
    11/1/2017 7:58:12 AM
    On average, up to the entire capacity of a Boeing 707's passengers are killed in accidents involving trucks every year in Ontario.
    It's so easy to target truck drivers. I get it, it must be the drivers fault and certainly it's the drivers responsibility because they are in control of the vehicle as a professional driver but, as stated to many times already, the status do not reveal fault not do they mention the glaring undersight that is; the operator off the other vehicles. That's like family law stats claiming 1 in 5 marriage failures are caused by the man. I respect the inclusion of factors but those factors though pinned as the responsibility of the operator are usually beyond what the operator actually controls; maintenance and load security for instance. Sure the driver inspects the teacher and trailer before departing the lot and sure (for van loads) they can check the tail to insure bars and straps were used. Yes the driver can feel the load to when pulling from a dock but still there's an unrealistic belief that the driver is ultimately responsible when I most cases, it's not.
    I've worked on loading docks for close to 20 years and know that in some places, the driver is not allowed on the dock until the loading is complete. I also know that bad restraints are often used mid load and never seen by drivers; frayed straps, bent or broken bars with fork holes in them ore missing locking pins that are designed to keep the from jumping fromthe e-tracking. You name it I've seen it. Perhaps the greatest failure in all of this is the failure to provide realistic time for everyone to do the job in a responsible way. Moving stuff as fast as possible is more important than the royal to those in that stuffs way after all, we can't have the new iPhone X launch delayed now can we?
    In reality, we need to be pinning the responsibility for the safety of the entire industry on everyone involved and not just pin it to the back end of those driving it around on their tales.
  • Safety - Don Horwood
    11/14/2018 9:03:56 AM
    If there was as much death and destruction in my industry as there is in the trucking industry there would be a national outcry. Regardless of who is at fault it has to stop. Everyday and see truckers barreling down the road at 110km/h or 120km/h going downhill. I knew a trucker who said you had to keep two sets of books in order to make money. Many in the industry do it. Lets start with those two things and work on the rest. The leadership in this area starts with the truckers themselves.