According to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), between January 1 and July 9, 2017, Ontario roads patrolled by the OPP saw 24 fatal accidents involving transport trucks. During the same period this year, that number rose to 33, representing a 38% increase. Overall, truck crashes in Ontario have accounted for 11% of all traffic collisions in the province this year.
In response to this troubling trend, the OPP conducted Operation Safe Trucking between July 15 and 21. During that six-day period, almost 2,500 charges were laid and 120 unsafe commercial motor vehicles were taken off the road, highlighting the continuing risks posed by dangerous trucks and negligent truck drivers.
We’ve discussed truck accidents in the past, but given these new figures provided by the OPP, we thought this would be a good time to review some of the basics of truck accidents in Ontario.
Article at a Glance
Article at a Glance
- Transport truck accidents are usually the fault of the truck driver, and are often caused by driver inattention, defective equipment or improper maintenance, or impaired driving.
- Drivers on Ontario roads should keep a few safety tips in mind when driving in traffic that includes commercial motor vehicles like transport trucks.
- Truck accident claims have some similarities with other types of automobile accidents, but tend to be even more complex.
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Common Causes of Transport Truck Crashes in Ontario
OPP data show that transport truck drivers are at fault in 65% of transport truck collisions in Ontario. Some of the most common causes giving rise to that statistic include:
When drivers are not paying attention to the road, they put themselves and others at risk. This is especially true for truck drivers, whose vehicles weigh significantly more than most of the other vehicles around them.
Driver inattention can itself have several causes, including:
- Texting or talking on a cell phone;
- Talking to a passenger;
- In-truck entertainment, such as music or movies;
- Eating while driving;
- Distracting objects or events outside of the truck; and
- Driving drowsy.
To combat the last of those, Ontario law limits the amount of time that transport truck drivers can remain on the road without resting. And truck drivers must maintain a driving log that records how long they drive each day.
Unfortunately, those limits on driving often come up against truckers’ desire to please their bosses and trucking companies’ desire for ever-greater profits. As a result, drivers often drive more than they’re supposed to and keep inaccurate or otherwise inadequate records.
Defective Trucks and Improper Maintenance
Equipment defects are another common cause of truck crashes in Ontario. According to 2014 4% of all fatal large truck collisions that year.
As with fatigued driving, Ontario law tries to protect travelers against defective trucks by imposing certain requirements on truckers and the transportation industry regarding how often trucks must be inspected.
But, also like drowsy driving, these requirements are often viewed by trucking companies as a hindrance to profits, and so aren’t always complied with. This makes large transport trucks too often a deadly accident waiting to happen.
Finally, truck accidents can also be caused by driver impairment, such as impairment resulting from alcohol, marijuana, or even prescription drugs.
To help protect Ontarians against the effects of impaired truck drivers, since July 1, Ontario law has prohibited drivers from having any level of alcohol, marijuana, or certain other drugs in their system while operating a commercial vehicle such as transport trucks.
Safe Driving Around Transport Trucks
Just because transport truck crashes are most often caused by the truck driver doesn’t mean drivers of other vehicles don’t also have a responsibility to drive safely around large commercial trucks. To help protect yourself, your family, and the traffic around you against the risk of a truck accident, keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Be aware of truck traffic. Driver attentiveness is a two-way street. Be mindful of the truck traffic around you. Large trucks create strong wind turbulence when driven on the highway, and that turbulence can make it difficult to control your vehicle. Be especially vigilant for trucks that have pulled off to the side of the road, as the driver may be walking around the truck.
- Merge carefully. Large trucks cannot brake or otherwise manoeuvre as quickly as smaller vehicles. Truck drivers need to maintain greater distance from the vehicles in front of them to be able to drive safely. If you merge into a lane too close to a transport truck, you can reduce the driver’s ability to respond to an emergency or slowed traffic.
- Don’t drive in blind spots. Trucks have large blind spots on both sides of the cab and just behind the trailer. If you drive in a truck’s blind spot, the driver of the truck cannot see you or take precautions to avoid a collision when slowing down or changing lanes. Remember, if you can’t see the driver’s face in his or her sideview mirrors, the driver can’t see you.
Your Rights Following a Transport Truck Collision
In some ways, your rights following a transport truck accident are the same as your rights in any motor vehicle accident in Ontario. As we’ve discussed before, you have the right to apply for statutory accident benefits for your injuries regardless of who was at fault in the accident. And if the truck driver was at fault, you can pursue a tort claim against the driver and the company he or she works for.
But truck cases are more complex than your typical car accident. The fact that both the driver and the company he or she works for can be held liable is one source of that complexity. Safety regulations and the records they require are another. These and other complicating factors are why it’s important to work with a lawyer experienced in handling truck accident cases.
At Preszler Law Firm, we have decades of experience representing Ontarians injured in transport truck crashes. Our lawyers understand the special factors that make trucking cases so complex and work diligently to bring such cases to a swift and satisfactory conclusion. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.