TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are conducting a blitz this week on the province’s highways, paying special attention to heavy-duty commercial vehicles, and they’re doing it from a new angle.
OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair said the group is using the two OPP Class 8 tractors – normally reserved for hauling police vehicles around Ontario – during the week to give them a better view of distracted drivers in the Greater Toronto Area.
“Starting with this initiative, we are enhancing our observational investigative abilities on the road. Officers will now be conducting patrols in transport trucks,” said Blair. “By giving our officers an enhanced vantage point they will be better positioned to detect transport truck drivers that are distracted, or engaging in other dangerous behaviors behind the wheel.”
Officers across the province, along with aerial patrols, will also be participating in the blitz the OPP is calling Operation Safe Trucking.
Blair said the Highway Safety Division of the OPP has responded to more than 6,200 collisions involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) on provincially patrolled roads since the beginning of 2017. Of those 72 were fatal, causing the deaths of 87 people. More than 1,000 others involved personal injury. More than 5,000 of the crashes involved property damage.
Blair says collisions have real social and economic impacts even for those not involved in them directly, with everything from the loss of life, to medical treatment costs, loss of productivity, and the disruption in the movement of goods and people due to highway backups costing business and individuals.
“The vast majority of [collisions] are attributed to poor driving behaviors, and they are completely preventable,” said Blair.
Blair acknowledged the majority of CMV drivers are safe and lead by example, making them excellent partners in making roads safer.
The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is throwing its support behind the blitz, saying the majority of fleets make safety a priority.
“Unfortunately, there are some in our industry that require the attention of the OPP to remind them of their obligation to road safety. Many of today’s modern and safe fleets have distracted and aggressive driver monitoring systems in place. We encourage the OPP to send a clear message to those that fail to adopt proper and safe management practices,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
Blair said there are no ticket quotas for the week, and the officers on the road hope to see nothing but safe driving behaviors from all drivers.
The blitz is part of an aggressive strategy the OPP has been working on this year in order to bring awareness to distracted and fatigued operation of CMVs.
The plan includes cooperation from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) in the form of inspections, and meetings on a joint committee with the OTA to explore new enforcement techniques.
The committee will be meeting again in the new year to work on a plan to promote a culture of safety to fleets, the OTA said.
MTO assistant director of enforcement operations, Chris Davies, says an inspection of a commercial vehicle is conducted an average of every five minutes in Ontario. Inspectors will also be participating in the week’s blitz.
“Keeping Ontario’s roads safe is our number one priority and it’s one we take very seriously,” Davies said. “There’s no place on our roads for any kind of distracted or aggressive driving. You’re the ones we’ll be looking for.”