An example of a truck collision resulting in a fire in Cambridge, Ontario in May of 2018.

Traffic fatalities have gone on the upswing again in the past couple of years after many decades of decreases. However in the U.S. early estimates for traffic fatalities for 2017 indicate that a slight decrease of about 0.8 percent is expected in comparision to 2016 data. Despite this good news there is a gloomy statistic: “Fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck are projected to increase by 10 precent” (NHTSA ,Traffic Safety Facts, May, 2018).

In the Province of Ontario mandatory truck driver training commencd in July of 2017. Such training costs approximately $10,000 and must be completed before an applicant can arrange for a Ministry driver’s test to obtain a license (Class A) to drive typical, air-brake-equipped, Class 8, tractor-trailer type trucks. Due to the horrific crash of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus in Saskatchewan earlier this year there have been calls for similar mandatory training across Canada.

The belief that such mandatory truck driver training is required must be based on a reasonable expectation that the training will reduce the number and/or severity of truck crashes. It must overcome the counter argument that driver training may only provide a means by which prospective drivers can perform on the “stage of evaluation” while their true nature will be revealed once they obtain a full license and no longer need to continue that performance. Time may tell which holds true, or whether the truth is a combination of both.

In the meantime, Gorski Consulting is gathering data on the actions of truck drivers via videotaped observations on Highway 401, which is the main expressway that travels through the southern portion fo the Province of Ontario. Depending on the location along the highway, heavy truck traffic can be in the range of 40 to 50 percent. This makes for a good opportunity to determine what improvements may been needed to reduce those deadly increases of 10 percent in heavy truck fatalities.