Ontario to crack down on truck safety; OTA says get rid of “bottom feeders”

by Canadian Shipper

Ontario’s transportation minister, Harinder Takhar, says the government will impose a crackdown to improve trucking safety after a two-truck crash shut major parts of Highway 401 this week. The Minister also ordered “a complete audit” of Redtree Contract Carriers, the company whose driver was charged for careless driving in the incident.

In Wednesday’s collision at around 3:20 a.m., a truck loaded with garbage swerved and clipped a tractor-trailer hauling paint to Brampton. The paint truck rolled on to its side and began to burn.

“I want to do a complete, thorough review of their record … everything we can check, the tires, the nuts, the bolts … and we will have to check the driving record as well,” Takhar told reporters.

A spokesperson for the trucking company, Gordon Haugh of Wilson Logistics, (of which Redtree is the operating arm) defended the driver and the company record, blaming the accident instead the highway’s state of “non-repair.”

“We have had a lot of drivers from other companies who have called and told us not to let our driver take the fall because this is the worst-maintained stretch of highway in the province,” he said.

The President of the Ontario Trucking Association, meanwhile, says the Ministry of Transportation spends too much time auditing and inspecting the majority of carriers that don’t pose a risk, instead of putting the real problem companies out of business.

“W know who those carriers are and the government knows who they are, yet those companies continue to operate like everyone else putting the public at risk and distorting the market for good carriers,” said David Bradley.

He said the government should introduce a program of real competitive advantages for safe trucking companies. Shippers who use unsafe carriers should be held liable for accidents.

In addition, he said, the provincial government needs to regulate truck driver “licence mills” out of existence. And, there needs to be a more co-ordinated and efficient process of cleaning up after accidents so that traffic disruptions are minimized.

“Trucks and truck drivers as a class are the safest vehicles and drivers on the highways and most car-truck crashes are not the fault of the truck driver. The government should be looking at re-introduction of a modified photo radar system and making how to share the road safely with trucks a mandatory part of car driver licence training and testing,” said Bradley.

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