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OSL calls for Ontario coroner’s review following spate of highway crashes

Ontario Safety League (OSL) president Brian Patterson was already concerned about collisions on Ontario highways, but the crash involving a truck that plowed into a road crew was the final straw.

Two people were sent to hospital just after midnight on Jan. 18 after the transport hit the back of a sign truck on the QEW near Beamsville, despite clearly blocked center and left lanes. The 22-year-old truck driver was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, while a 39-year-old member of the road crew was left with serious injuries.

Patterson penned a letter to Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore, asking for a review into what he sees as an increase in commercial collisions.

“It just seemed like there was five crashes in the last three weeks, and all of them had the word ‘preventable’ all over them,” Patterson told TruckNews.com. “That guy plowed into the back of a fully lit truck that had been up for hours, and 10,000 cars passed it safely.”

“Public safety partners and related organizations could be called upon to assist. The MTO [Ontario Ministry of Transportation] Enforcement and Engineering Divisions have considerable data and expertise to support this review. The OPP and municipal police resources would be available to aid this,” he said in the letter to Moore.

Role of an Ontario coroner’s review

“We could cover both general and/or commercial driver training, driver experience, and related issues of fatigue or impairment. We should act now – and the entire public, including pedestrians, cyclists, all road users will benefit,” he added. “The lives saved will support any expenditure of funds required.”

Like a coroner’s inquest that involves a jury, a review still considers expert advice and makes recommendations, Patterson said in an interview. Such advice could come from sources as diverse as industry associations and training experts, he added. “It doesn’t point the finger at anybody.”

The coroner has already helped address underlying issues behind fires, cycling safety, and pedestrian safety, Patterson added.

Looking at commercial crashes, he wonders if the length of time a driver holds a particular licence class makes a difference. But only a review would generate the data to offer a clear look at the issues, he said.

“I’m not focusing on commercial-only. We’re talking about [G Class] drivers and commercial drivers. Are the incidents on the highway involving new G drivers coming into contact with commercial drivers? Nobody’s looked.”

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