Following a massive deadly crash on Highway 400 outside of Ontario earlier this week, the OPP has declared war on distracted truck drivers, but the truckers themselves say that the blame has been misplaced — and they have the statistics to back up their claims.
Near midnight on October 31, a fiery 14 vehicle pileup involving two fully loaded fuel tankers claimed the lives of three people and injured several others. OPP’s Sgt. Kerry Schmidt described the scene as “almost Armageddon.”
Following this crash, OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes has placed blame for the crash on distracted, speeding truckers, who he says are driving deadly “missiles” down the highway. Hawkes stated: “There’s really no excuse for that transport truck to continue at the speeds that they did and impact the vehicles that we in the (traffic) queue.”
— Sgt Kerry Schmidt (@OPP_HSD) November 1, 2017
Hawkes went on to say that serious crashes caused by truckers are getting worse: “Unfortunately, this is what we see time and time again and . . . the trend is getting worse. If the driver is still distracted, whether they’re watching television or they’re texting or they’re eating a sandwich . . . when the traffic is stopped ahead, the devastation is going to happen.”
OPP Commissioner Says Truck Crashes Are Getting Worse. Stats Tell A Different Story.
Hawkes cites statistics that 12% of crashes on Ontario Highways involve commercial vehicles and that 25% of fatal crashes involve commercial vehicles. Many in the trucking industry have taken issue with his claims — especially since those statistics do not indicate who was at fault in the crashes. The Ontario Trucking Association says that there has been actually been a 66% decrease in the fatality rate in commercial vehicle collisions between 1995 and 2015.
The London Free Press also pushed back against Hawkes’ claims:
“Those stats create the impression truckers are responsible for more than their fair share of death on Ontario roads. But a full review of the ministry data from the last 22 years points to the opposite conclusion: That truckers are killing fewer people on Ontario roads and that their share of blame is smaller than that of other motorists.”
The London Free Press also noted that “Since 1995, when 182 people were killed in Ontario collisions involving commercial trucks, the number of licensed truckers has surged by 75 per cent but the number of truck-related deaths had plunged to 109 in 2014, a drop of 40 per cent, according to statistics from Ontario’s Transportation Ministry.”
You can click here to watch truckers respond to the accusations in a report from the London Free Press.
Trucker Murray Blackburn told news station CTV that in his experience during most crashes, the truck driver is not the one to blame: “Most of the time, not always, it’s caused by a car cutting off a tractor trailer or you’re in a snow storm or something beyond the driver’s control. It was a tragedy and I’m really sorry it happened … It may have been driver error, it’s quite possible, nobody’s perfect. [Hawkes] shouldn’t be blaming all the truck drivers and flat out saying it’s always the truck driver’s fault because it is not.“