Provincial police in Ontario are experimenting with a different way of seeking out distracted and dangerous commercial truck drivers by patrolling the roads in transport trucks. In a five-day safety blitz initiative taking place this week, Ontario Provincial Police will be behind the wheel of transport trucks which will give them a better vantage point. The OPP Commissioner, Vince Hawkes, says that this year alone, more than 6,200 collisions have been reported relating to transport trucks, and inattentive driving is the cause of over a quarter of these commercial vehicle collisions. Of the collisions investigated by the OPP, 69 were fatal, killing a total of 84 people. What’s more is that in 65% of the cases, the fault is attributed to the driver of the transport truck, which is why the OPP feels the need to improve road safety and cut down on inattentive and distracted driving.
Officers will be riding in two OPP sanctioned transport trucks over the course of this week in an initiative known as Operation Safe Trucking, a subset of the OPP’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Mitigation Strategy. Although they will not be pulling over violators in the transport trucks, provincial police in standard issue vehicles will be on standby, so within seconds, an official traffic stop can be conducted. Of course, it is not just the unique vantage point that gives this unorthodox approach credence, but the fact that the OPP will be relatively anonymous in the cab of tractor-trailer versus the more conspicuous police car they usually use during patrols. Commercial drivers in the province are the main targets of this initiative, but officers will be addressing dangerous behavior in all drivers, so commuters and personal vehicle motorists are not off the hook.
All offending, distracted, and dangerous driving practices will be under scrutiny during this safety blitz, but the following practices will be especially targeted:
- Following Too Close
- Improper Lane Change
- Illegal Turns
- Distracted Driving
- Fail to Yield to Right of Way
- Improper/Illegal Passing
- Traffic Control Disobedience
Of course, these illegal and improper driving behaviors are dangerous for everyone on the road, but the size and weight of commercial trucks make them much more likely to cause collisions that result in fatalities versus a standard vehicle engaging in the same reckless behavior. With the increase of casualties are a result of these transgressions, the OPP determined that anything that could potentially cut down on the number of collisions involving commercial vehicles should be done. This safety blitz is just the latest in a string of unconventional methods the OPP is experimenting with in an attempt to cut down on these collisions. In addition to using the transport trucks, they will continue with the more traditional methods of patrolling, as well as continuing to perform standard truck and vehicle inspections, plus using air patrol to seek out and find offending drivers. If “Operation Safe Trucking” is a success, motorists can expect to see more officers using the transport trucks in the future as well.