Ontario’s Alarming Spike in Transport Truck Collisions

All motor vehicle accidents can cause injury, but with such disparity in the size and weight of vehicles, collisions involving transport trucks are especially horrific.

It is simple physics that in a match-up between passenger vehicle and tractor trailer, the smaller vehicle will take the bigger hit. According to new statistics from the OPP, there has been an alarming spike in fatal accidents involving transport trucks: 33 fatal accidents killing 41 people in the first half of 2018, up 38% from the same period last year.

This figure is grim but reflective of the number of charges the OPP has laid against transport truck drivers so far this year:

  • 1,615 speeding charges
  • 354 distracted driving charges
  • 963 defective equipment-related charges

As part of their commercial motor vehicle collision mitigation strategy, OPP ran a 24-hour blitz called “Operation Corridor” this past June, which resulted in laying nearly 700 charges (more than 29 per hour) and taking 63 trucks off the road.

Given that 80% of fatal crashes have come in clear, dry conditions, the question is what is behind the growing number of collisions? The OPP says that dangerous and distracted driving–such as inattention, loss of control, speed, failure to yield right of way, and following too close–are the top five causes of commercial vehicle collisions.

Regulatory and market conditions are also partly to blame: the combination of weak government oversight of the industry, insufficient safety audits, and tired and inexperienced drivers results in lethal conditions for everyone on the road. The problem is so bad that the Ontario Trucking Association wants to see stronger provincial and federal rules “to ensure drivers have more training before they get the right to drive a truck.”

No one wants this deadly pattern continue, and fortunately, there does appear to be some willingness among the various parties to work together to stop it. One idea presented by the trucking industry is mandatory electronic logging books, which could help prevent driver fatigue.

Ultimately, all drivers must be vigilant, and be aware of the limitations of transport trucks. OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt urges those on the road to “watch their signals, watch their mirrors, don’t hang out in their blind spots” and remember the critical rule of thumb: if you can’t see them, they can’t see you.