Today's Trucking
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The battle for public perception in BC

Posted: August 1, 2014

VANCOUVER — BC Trucking Association boss Paul Landry knows that no matter how impressive a safety record the trucking industry produces, it doesn’t matter at all until the general public believes it.

That’s why he’s arguably the most vigilant of all provincial association leaders in promoting and defending the trucking industry in the media.

It’s no secret that the BCTA has had a bit of a rocky relationship with the Vancouver-based media. 

Things really heated up last month, though, when the BCTA launched a partnership with WorkSafeBC in an effort to improve truck safety in the province.

One of the first tasks of this joint B.C. Trucking Safety Council was to determine the current safety level of trucks and their drivers in the province. A 166-page study was commissioned and conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF). 

The study, titled “Best Practices for Truck Safety” was released and shortly after an article appeared in the Vancouver Sun (and syndicated in other newspapers) with the front-page headline reading, “B.C. has Canada’s worst truck drivers."

The BC media seems to give truckers
a bad rap. So, kudos to the
BCTA, which always fights back.

It was accompanied by a sensational photo of truck balancing on a bridge’s guardrail and barely upright.

The headline however, was hardly fair or accurate, once you read the report. Or as Landry puts it, the article was “opportunistic, simplistic and irresponsible."

(The BCTA has since demanding an apology and retraction for the story but it, according to the association, did not receive a satisfactory reply. So, the BCTA has filed an official compliant with the self-governing BC Press Council).

In 166 pages, the report is loaded with statistics. The first, used in the news story, stated that B.C. truckers were to blame 18.9 percent of the time in crashes, compared to 14.8 percent of the time in the rest of the west, 10 percent in central Canada, and 12.2 percent of the time in the Atlantic provinces.

But as Brian Jonah, senior research scientist with TIRF points out, when there is no outside contributing factor to a collision (speeding, impairment, poor weather or road conditions) fatigue is automatically chalked up as the cause.

Plus, when it comes to the presence of alcohol and driver fatigue in a collision, the statistics do not distinguish between the trucker and the passenger vehicle.

The article also downplayed a very telling statistic, which is consistent with almost every car-truck crash study done in North America: That when the two are involved in the same collision, it’s usually the car driver’s fault

But Landry isn’t interested so much in playing the blame game. He’s written several letters to the editor and distributed an editorial stressing how the general public needs a better understanding of trucking.

Anyone interested in the full report can access it the B.C. Trucking Safety Council website, here.

— read more in the upcoming August print issue of Today’s Trucking

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