Last year’s Humboldt Broncos crash is a prime example of having an inexperienced driver at the wheel. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who was distracted by a tarp and missed signs warning him of an upcoming intersection, will be sentenced on March 22. His driving resulted in the death of 16 people and seriously injured 13 people. Sidhu’s guilty plea brought closure for a lot of the families who lost a loved one.
The case brought to light the need for more driver training to ensure road safety.
In the United States one out of 10 highway deaths involve a heavy truck, while about 2,000 Canadians are killed each year and another 10,000 seriously injured in roadway collisions. According to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, highway collisions cost society $37 billion annually.
In Ontario, 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 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.
Recently, Transport Minister Marc Garneau and the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety announced the creation of a national mandatory entry-level training (MELT) standard for all new commercial truck drivers by Jan. 1, 2020. Elected officials also want to implement harmonized technical standards for electronic logging devices and enhanced road safety for impaired and distracted driving with the legalization of cannabis.
This is the right step in making our roadways safer for everyone.
In regards to the legalization of cannabis, another issue that will affect the safety of roadways, the odds are against people who drive under the influence.
According to a 2018 infographic published by Public Safety Canada, a drug impaired driving offence occurs every three hours in Canada every day, with one in four cannabis users reporting they have driven a car while under the influence.
Cannabis doubles one’s chances of getting into a collision. And men are 2.5 times more likely to drive while high than women.
Currently, the penalty for driving under the influence is $1,000 and a one-year suspension.