New trucking regulations have been implemented in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario following the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, when 16 people were killed, including players and staff, and 13 others were injured.
Those dealing with the loss of loved ones, though, say safety doesn’t stop at a province’s border.
Proponents of petition E-2005 want new trucking regulations to be country-wide and equal throughout, and it has over 7,000 signatures online and on paper.
Pattie Fair, an occupational health and safety professional, launched the petition a year-and-a-half ago after her husband, a commercial truck driver, and dog were killed in a fatal crash on Highway 1 near Revelstoke, B.C.
On March 13, 2017, a 24-year-old semi-truck driver lost control and collided with his truck, devastating Fair.
Her husband’s death prompted her to apply her knowledge in occupational health and safety and create the petition, which proposes a graduated licence training program, funding for applicant training, training facility auditing, and the trucking industry become a skilled trade — all of which would be standardized across Canada.
Fair says the recently-legislated Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) for truck drivers only being implemented in select provinces defeats the purpose of the new regulation.
“You can get a licence in Saskatchewan with a day cab and a flat deck in the summer, and that same licence you use to haul logs across our mountain passes,” Fair said. “I don’t know how they would do adequate training in a prairie province to allow that driver to have the experience.”
“I would like to see a graduated licensing system so drivers are gradually working up to that load of logs and accounting for different terrain that they’re travelling on,” she said.
“I would also like to see that nationally, training facilities are being audited every year, to ensure that the training being delivered is adequate. Right now, there are no checks and balances to ensure that. It needs to be nationally standardized and monitored.”
Fair launched the petition months before the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018 and when she saw the news, she was “sick.”
“It makes me sick. What do you say? It’s horrific,” she said.
Carol and Lyle Brons lost their daughter Dayna, who was an athletic therapist on the team, in the Humboldt tragedy. Lyle spent time as a commercial truck driver and the couple has a unique perspective on Canada’s trucking standards. They’re hoping Canadians will sign the petition, so the federal government will adopt the proposed standards and make Canada’s roads safer as a whole, not province-by-province.
They see glaring issues in the selective approach.
“Anybody who doesn’t want to spend the money or take the time to get the [proper] training will go somewhere where it’s easier to do it, and just get it there,” said Lyle.
“There needs to be consistent training across Canada for it to be effective,” added Carol.
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From Lyle’s truck driving experience, he believes better training and attention is needed for everyone on the road — no matter the size of the vehicle.
“I’ve been saying this for years: we need better training for all drivers. When you see what people do on the highways and in the cities, it’s scary,” Lyle said. “When I was a commercial driver, there were times when I had to ride the brakes pretty hard. I don’t know if its attitude or lack of training or what it is, but it’s scary out there.”
Carol echoed her husband’s sentiment, adding “people are in too much of a rush. They think their time is more precious than another person’s safety.”
“We miss Dayna every day, and it pains us knowing that this tragedy could have been prevented had there been more regulations in place to ensure Class 1 drivers are properly trained and monitored,” she said.
Chris Joseph, who lost his son Jaxon in the crash, wants to see these changes made sooner rather than later, and said: “We cannot allow more innocent lives to be lost at the hands of ill-prepared commercial drivers.”
When it comes to why there haven’t been nationally-implemented changes to the trucking industry as of yet, Fair asks herself that question “every single day.”
“Every day we’re taking another chance. Europe has changed their system, the U.S. has changed their system — why is Canada not changing? I don’t know.”
“Canada has to stand together on this if we want to have safer roadways.”
Canadians have until May 14 to sign Fair’s petition to the House of Commons.
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