THUNDER BAY — A veteran long-haul truck driver says driving on Highways 11 and 17 in Northern Ontario has become treacherous.
"I got military danger pay for things that are a lot less dangerous than driving on those highways," Richard Deschamps said.
It's why he's started an online petition aimed at improving truck-driver training.
Deschamps is from the Ottawa valley but is currently based in Quebec.
Besides spending some time in the military, he's driven a truck for 27 years.
Deschamps said a trucker he used to work with lost his life this year in a multi-truck collision in the Northwest which he believes was preventable, and was not his friend's fault.
"He was coming home. It was his last trip before the holidays.... This is the kind of carnage we want to stop. We just want to feel safe on the road like we used to."
Conditions on the two-lane Trans-Canada routes in Northern Ontario have noticeably worsened in the last couple of years, Deschamps said.
He credits most truckers with being "awesome" drivers, but said but there are still a lot who "don't adapt to the conditions of the road, and you mix that with the unqualified, untrained drivers, and everything has just become ridiculous."
The petition on Change.org states, in part: "Enough with our safety being put in jeopardy...enough with the government not taking these issues seriously."
It had 6,000 signatures by late December.
"Just look at last summer. The number of accidents. I've been stuck numerous times, for seven, eight or nine hours in the middle of nowhere because there was a head-on in front of me where someone passed on a corner and there was oncoming traffic," Deschamps said.
He said he's had to take evasive action several times to avoid a collision because of an unsafe manoeuvre by another trucker.
Deschamps wants government and industry to take immediate steps to improve the situation.
"It's the training, and to keep up with the training.... That's the company's responsibility to do this."
Deschamps said driving in winter conditions shouldn't be an excuse for collisions, either.
"We live in a snowy country. We should adapt our driving to winter conditions. Just because it's written that you can go 90 kilometres an hour doesn't mean you have to drive 90 kilometres an hour."