Another huge crash on a 400 series highway again with multiple fatalities. As I understand it, there was a previous collision backing up traffic some distance ahead and one trucker failed to stop in time. My friends, jumping on Facebook were quick to criticize inattentive driving and cell phone/texting as a likely cause. (Today’s excuse for everything.) In a statement, one friend had this idea:
“Trust me when I say this is not meant as a dig or generalization of all truckers but I do put a considerable amount of windshield time in. Every time I’m on the road I see distracted transport truck drivers. I’ve seen countless tractor-trailers crossing lines into other lanes only to come along beside them and find them with their phone in hand texting on the wheel or with it up to their ear. I’m at a point now if I have to pass a transport I switch lanes if possible or accelerate to get past them because I don’t want to ever be beside one.
Let’s face it every driver out there has crossed over the lines at one time or another. Reaching for a coffee, changing the radio station, looking at the scenery, not to mention the volumes of idiots in passenger vehicles I see with their phone in hand every day! We have a serious problem on our roads that is killing people daily. Here are a couple of suggestions for solutions:
1) There should be technology installed in cell phones that disables them from making outgoing calls, answering incoming calls or texting when the phone is mobile unless connected to a secured, hands-free system.
2) All transport trucks should be equipped with lane sensor technology. My wife has it in her vehicle and it is quite remarkable! You can adjust the distance to the car in front of you to 2 or 3 vehicles and the system tracks and keeps your distance and will slow the vehicle to keep the separation or stop the vehicle to prevent a collision. The system also keeps the vehicle from ever being able to wander out of the lane! It’s quite incredible technology and I truly believe it can save lives.”
(my friend Vic Berzins)
I like Vic’s suggestion and would like to see this as standard equipment on all vehicles, not just trucks. I can see some obstacles to having this implemented regarding the changing weight and load dynamics with commercial vehicles. Not to say it can’t be done but, not likely in my lifetime.
I agree with Vic that one should get past big trucks whenever possible, with as much space as possible. There are a lot more reasons for this than what he mentioned. My personal opinion is that drivers following too close cause the majority of the mishaps on our highways. I like the fact that Vic is offering solutions. Most people just criticize without any thought.
I don’t know why this particular driver failed to stop but, I’d like to add this thought to Vic’s technology suggestion:
For at least, the last 27 years in Britain, on “M” (Motorways – highways like 400 series) there have been message board, electronic road signs every few hundred feet that light up indicating stoppages on the path ahead. I made fun of them when I was there because the message on the sign was usually “Slow Police Ahead”. It included whatever reduced speed you should adopt. The advised speed got slower the closer you were to the stoppage. My sarcastic comment was always “Those poor dumb witted, slow thinking, British Police.”
If Ontario can erect huge signs that tell you that it is so many minutes to such, and such an exit or transfer point, then surely this kind of advanced warning can be installed. All that’s needed is something to catch the driver’s eye warning of problems ahead. Race tracks have had warning flag systems forever. Panic actions or stops have always been traffic’s worst hazards in any situation.
Keep in mind that Ontario licenses 30,000 new drivers every year and only the worst of the worst ever have to retest until they reach age 80. For the most part, truckers and bus drivers with safety-conscious fleets are usually the only ones taking regular driver training/refreshing.
When I was still actively teaching Defensive Driving, our drivers had to attend my course once every year. Beyond the very first mandatory commercialized Defensive Driving Course they had to take, set by the various safe driving organizations, our drivers came back annually to my own specialized course designed specifically to address the daily hazards they faced. I found those drivers to be very participative, attentive and appreciative on a regular basis, This was especially so when they were proud to take home their certificate which declared them to be “Defensive Driving Specialists”. They could “stick their chest out” and be proud of their ability. I believe that pride made them safer on the road. They certainly carried those certificates with them regularly and were quick to point out when the next course was due.
I would like to add one more point. Regardless of what we do, there are no guarantees of safety anywhere or at any time.
About the Author
Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.
As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.
Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council