NDP MPP Lise Vaugeois (Thunder Bay-Superior North) is urging the provincial government to take immediate action following another week of tragic accidents involving truckers in Northern Ontario.
Last week, a 47-year-old woman lost her life after a crash with a tanker on MR55 in the Greater Sudbury community. The vehicles involved were a pickup truck and a transport truck.
The driver of the transport, a 31-year-old man, sustained minor injuries. The driver and sole occupant of the pickup, a 47-year-old woman, died.
Vaugeois is calling for "proper measures" to be put in place to protect drivers and keep highways safe. She has been working closely with drivers from Truckers for Safer Highways, who share her concerns.
The group is calling for better training for commercial drivers, the staffing of inspection stations 24/7 so that safety regulations can be enforced, and the training of police officers to read electronic logs so that drivers are not driving beyond their permitted number of hours.
“Every day, we close our highways for collisions, and someone loses their life at least once a week, said Vaugeois. “I've had dispatchers from Ontario Provincial Police write me about these fatalities and ask me how we can stop inexperienced drivers coming through our province."
Under the current structure, trucking schools can train and then employ those same drivers. Vaugeois is calling for a separation between training schools and employers. The Ontario NDP and Truckers for Safer Highways are calling for Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney to step forward and implement significant changes.
"We are alarmed at the number of severe, avoidable collisions involving commercial vehicles we see on an almost-daily basis," said Travis McDougall, cofounder of Truckers for Safer Highways. "While these incidents have become increasingly worse in northern Ontario, it has become a problem throughout the entire country."
"We cannot continue to lose lives on our highways," said Vaugeois. "It is time for the government to take action and protect our drivers. We are calling on the Ford government to act now and put the necessary measures in place to keep our highways safe."