Why do trucks hit overpasses? Because B.C. drivers aren’t trained not to: trucking association
A damaged overpass at Park Royal Shopping Centre that closed southbound traffic on West Vancouver’s Taylor Way.
Giant chunks taken out of the 152nd Street overpass in Surrey, forcing the closure of the northbound lane on Highway 99.
And on Tuesday, traffic was left to crawl for hours in Langley after there was damage on the Glover Road overpass.
The culprit in each case? Truck drivers who appear to have misjudged the heights they needed to clear to drive past.
But why does this keep happening? Because there’s not enough training to ensure it doesn’t, Dave Earle, president and CEO of the BC Trucking Association, told Global News.
“People aren’t having the training they need,” he said.
“They’re not having the time to make the right decisions that they need.”
The latest incident saw a semi-truck carrying a container slam into the Glover Road overpass.
The container slid off the back of the truck and blocked the right-hand lane.
Earle didn’t know the particulars of the incident, but he said, “when you look at it… we look back and ask, what training and opportunity did that driver have to make that decision and to do the right thing?”
“Should a trucker know exactly how high their load is, how long it is, how much it weighs and what’s in it? Absolutely,” Earle said.
“That’s where we believe some minimum entry-level training standards should really apply.”
Earle said truckers are currently trained to understand and plan a route, and to work with dispatchers to understand the limitations of that route.
And they have to make decisions to ensure they’re “not going to be impacted by these limitations on the route that they’ve chosen,” he added.
But the current training simply doesn’t do enough to help drivers understand the size of what they’re transporting at a given time.
WATCH: Container truck meets overpass in Langley
“We need to be able to make sure operators understand the importance of knowing their load, that they understand how to measure the dimensions of their load, and that they understand the importance of planning their route,” Earle said.
Currently, if you want to drive a truck for a living, you can enter a professional driving school if you have a valid driver’s licence such as a Class 5.
There, you’ll learn skills to help you move product in a heavy commercial vehicle, Earle explained.
He added, however, that schools aren’t necessarily giving prospective truckers enough time to hone those skills and learn how to operate safely.
And as for knowing the size of your load, it’s not always that simple, Earle said.
Drivers often have to depend on information from shippers, or whoever’s loading a container on your truck.
“You don’t know how high your chassis is, and you don’t know exactly how high that container is,” he said.
“Unless someone’s actually taken you aside and told you how high the base of your chassis is, and what that looks like, and helps you plan that effective route, you’re not necessarily going to know.”
Earle said the provincial government is “actively” looking at the training issue, but “it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
- With files from Sonia Deol, Amy Judd and Jon Azpiri
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