THUNDER BAY — A Northwestern Ontario MPP is calling for more driver training and for the inspections stations to be open more regularly.
This year has been treacherous on area highways, with several fatal crashes in the first eight months of 2023, including two more last week.
Thunder Bay-Superior North NDP MPP Lise Vaugeois applauded the government’s move to open a brand-new inspection station just west of Nipigon, but expressed concern about its utilization.
A statement from the Ministry of Transportation confirms that the new station will be completed later this year.
“That’s fantastic, but then the release says they're only going to staff it as needed. Well, what does that mean?” questioned Vaugeois.
“Those stations need to be staffed, if not 24/7, for substantial amounts of time. That is one piece of what's going to keep the trucking industry honest [and] in check. There are various things going on, but at the very least staffing those inspection stations could make a substantial difference for everybody's safety.”
The government told TBNewswatch that the inspection station will be on the north side of the highway and the transportation enforcement officers will complete commercial motor vehicle inspections on the south side.
Vaugeois argued that the inspection station will get drivers travelling west on the highway but not anyone travelling east.
She also feels that the companies should be held accountable for driver training.
“Some carriers are sending out trucks that are not properly maintained. [There are also] drivers [that] are being sent out who haven't been adequately trained [and] who don't know how to drive in the winter on our roads," Vaugeois said.
"The standard of safety [needs to be] observed, and [if it isn’t] there are penalties.”
A response from the ministry said ensuring commercial drivers are properly trained is a critical part of road safety.
“Ontario was the first jurisdiction in North America to require entry-level training (ELT) for new commercial Class A drivers, ensuring all new applicants are properly trained before they are tested and licensed,” the statement reads.
The ministry said it continues to work with industry stakeholders, as well as road safety partners to enhance the entry-level training program to ensure Ontario continues to promote and be a leader in road safety.