Commercial Truck drivers in Ontario can too often drive across the province without stopping at a single inspection station, New Democratic Party Lise Vaugeois (Thunder Bay-Superior North) said in Parliament on November 10th.
“Our truck drivers can probably cross the entire province without seeing a single inspection station that has opened,” Vaugeois stated in her question to Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria, “and while MTO and OPP blitzes have led to charges being laid, drivers need to be stopped earlier and more frequently.
“The lack of proper training and lacks enforcement of truck safety is resulting in horrific crashes and constant highway closures,” said Vaugeois, who sponsored press conferences in March, 2023. This was a particularly bad period for truck accidents in Northern Ontario, including one in which a snow plow operator was killed, and another when the truck went off of the highway and struck two houses.
“We know there is a new superstation, opening up on highway 11/17 in Shuniah. Will the government finally commit to stopping inspection stations across the province so that the highest possible standard of safely enforced on our highways?”
Sarkaria, named Transportation Minister in a cabinet shuffle on September 4th, responded by saying “Ontario does have the highest standards of safety when it comes to not only the transportation sector, but our roads across Ontario. We lead North America and this country by example. And we’ll continue to ensure that we have a rigorous not only training process for commercial vehicles, but also ensure that our inspectors that are out on the road have the resources to be able to continue in carrying out those inspections.”
Sarkaria has promised to visit Northern Ontario this winter, particularly Highway 11/17.
“Mr. Speaker, the truckers carry a lot of weight during this time. And we want to make sure that our roads are safe and that we support our trucking industry through this as well. But Mr. Speaker, over 103 hours are required in a comprehensive training before a truck driver is licensed inspections happened all across this province every single day across Ontario and we will continue to ensure that we work together with all members of this house to improve safety on our roads.”
Travis McDougall, one of the founding members of Truckers for Safer Highways, tells Road Warrior News that improved enforcement and better training for commercial drivers are crucial to reducing commercial accidents, especially in Northern Ontario.
Philip Fletcher, president of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario recently met with Minister Sarkaria and expressed TTSAO’s concern that the winter driving components of the Ontario’s Entry Level Training program for Truckers should be improved with more focus on winter driving, and that new drivers would benefit by a structured mentorship program designed to familiarize them with winter driving hazards.