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Ontario trucking association releases plan for improved road safety

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. Ontario Provincial Police

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has released a five-point safety plan, following a number of devastating collisions on the province’s highways in recent weeks.

READ MORE: Smaller collision on Highway 400 may have played role in deadly pileup: police

One of the top priorities is curbing distracted and aggressive driving, which will involve a closer look at the role of technology.

OTA President Steve Laskowski says the creation of a pilot project to collect more data will be pitched to a working group that includes the ministry of transportation and OPP.

READ MORE: More vehicles, more distractions, more pressures in trucking industry: OPP on Hwy 400 crash

“Beyond enforcement, beyond penalties, are there ways that we can train ourselves to learn and to be more disengaged at the appropriate times?” he said referring to the use of technology when behind the wheel.

“The answer to that is perhaps there are some opportunities here.”

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The study, that the association wants to see completed by the end of 2018, aims to look at both benefits and potential impediments presented by certain systems.

If the installation of lane departure systems or collision warnings, for instance, are proven to have safety benefits, the association says it will endorse making them mandatory in commercial vehicles, effective 2019.

Zero-tolerance for marijuana use

The OTA action plan also addresses the impending legalization of marijuana in Canada and how it will be handled by the province.

“Impaired driving in the commercial trucking industry is not a problem,” said Laskowski, “and we want to keep it that way.”

READ MORE: 1 dead after multi-vehicle crash on Hwy. 401 near Cambridge

The association is calling on the provincial government to introduce mandatory drug and alcohol testing for commercial truck drivers.

“We do not care why it is in your body, whether it’s for recreational use or medicinal use,” he said.”Currently, the province makes that distinction, we are saying no, you don’t make that distinction.”

Educating customers

The Ontario Trucking Association is also appealing to the businesses that are using its members to ship goods to help improve road safety.

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Laskowski, says there is only a small segment of the trucking industry that doesn’t make safety a top priority.

Adding, they are able to continue running because they continue getting business.

In order to keep the highways and the products on board secure, Laskowski is advising businesses to do their homework, not only when it comes to shipping costs but when it comes to fleet management and safety.

The OTA suggests looking for a carrier with best practices that include electronic logging, a documented training program and pre-employment screening process.