Police investigating serious collisions in Ontario continually fail to inform the public of dangerous conditions that could result in their injury and death. The latest rollover of a tractor-trailer on Highway 401 near Chatham Ontario is another example of this fact.
A video was posted by the OPP on their Twitter account describing the collision. The video showed the final rest position of the truck that was lying in the median parallel to the travel lanes of the highway. Portions of the median cable barrier could be seen in front and behind the truck. Had the truck been out of control and approaching the barrier at a significant angle the final rest orientation of the truck would not be as shown in the video. Rather, it is more likely that the truck simply rolled over the barrier. For many years there has been no public discussion about issues like these, where a roadside barrier is too low to prevent rollovers of large vehicles. In fact a low barrier can enhance the likelihood that a large truck will rollover and the collision consequences can be increased. But at no time have police made the public aware of this important danger. The latest protocols for proper barrier characteristics are contained in the MASH manual but it is likely that no one in the police community has ever trained investigating police officers about such important requirements. This results in dangerous conditions existing for any occupants of large vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, inter-city buses and similar vehicles. By failing to inform the public the police become enablers of dangerous situations no different than if police simply ignored drivers who drove impaired, or if vehicle maintenance defects were similarly ignored.
The scientific community has known for decades that collision consequences are related to three basic causes HVE: The Human, The Vehicle and the Environment. Conveniently, the Environment, or dangers that exist due to roadway conditions, is often ignored by police because they are paid by those whose responsibility it is to maintain those roads to a properly safe standard. The Ontario government is the agency that is responsible for the conditions existing on Highway 401 yet they are also the same entity that pays the salaries of the Ontario Provincial Police. When such conditions exist checks and balances must exist to insure that this conflict of interest does not endanger the public.
UPDATE: October 6, 2023, 0745 hours
Subsequent photos from other entities suggest the tractor-trailer may have entered the median initially at a significant angle, possibly coming close to opposing lanes, before being deflected back toward its own side of the highway and rolling over. While some benefit would have been gained from this deflection the resultant rollover becomes unpredictable with respect to injury causation. If this had been a fully-loaded inter-city bus where many passengers are often unrestrained ejection could have occurred and the results could have bee catastrophic. Just because the injury consequences to the driver of the truck were minimal only means that rollovers can be unpredictable, but not always benign.
There is no publicly-available tracking of collisions involving the Highway 401 median barrier and therefore much of its performance is kept secret. While police spend a great deal of time documenting the evidence it is never shared with the public that needs to be informed.