TIRF Poll: Public interested in large truck safety

OTTAWA, June 28, 2010 – According to a poll conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), many Canadian drivers do not believe driver training programs for passenger vehicles provide adequate education about sharing the road with large trucks.

The survey conducted in September and October of 2009 found that 62.4% of respondents did not believe training is adequate. Another 20.2% of respondents simply answered they did not know whether training is adequate or not.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, a majority of the respondents (60.2%) supported requirements to test drivers of passenger cars to see if they know how to safely share the road with large trucks before obtaining a driver’s licence,” notes Ward Vanlaar, VP Research at TIRF.

When asked about safe driving practices when sharing the road with a large truck, the majority of respondents (64.2%) believed that they knew the minimum distance a driver should leave between their vehicle and a large truck. A majority (77.2%) of respondents also answered that they knew where the truck driver�s blind spots are.

“What was unexpected was that a reasonably large number of Canadians admit they actually do not know about these safe driving practices (35.8% and 22.8% respectively),” says Vanlaar. “In light of these findings, perhaps it should not be surprising that so many Canadians believe driver training for sharing the road with large trucks is inadequate.”

This concern over training adequacy may be warranted since the number of fatal collisions has not changed much between 2000 and 2006, suggesting a plateau has been reached. Furthermore, the number of injury crashes involving large trucks substantially increased between 2001 and 2005 from 7,802 to 9,366.

“Despite a slight decrease in 2006 to 9,066 injury crashes, the problem seems to be more pronounced among certain types of large trucks,” says Vanlaar. “More annual data are needed to confirm whether this decrease in 2006 will continue in the future.”

When asked about concerns regarding large trucks, Canadian drivers are concerned with driver fatigue and long hours of service (69.7%), vehicles not meeting safety standards (67.1%), and speeding (63.8%). Vanlaar notes that while concern is warranted, both government agencies and industry have been taking steps to address these concerns. A new federal regulation governing truck driver hours of service was introduced in 2007, however a number of Canadian jurisdictions have yet to adopt the new standard.

Of interest, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the provincial trucking associations also advocate the mandatory installation of tamper proof devices that electronically monitor the hours that a driver has worked in all trucks. This measure received the greatest support (64.8% agree to strongly agree with this measure) from respondents. Moreover, the industry and government are currently in the process of developing a voluntary fatigue management program for commercial truck drivers.

In addition, CTA and the provincial trucking associations support the mandatory activation of speed limiters on all large trucks. “Setting a limit on the maximum travel speed of a truck is a significant safety measure,” explains David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. “Such limitations are currently in place in Ontario and Quebec and require all large trucks that operate in these jurisdictions, regardless of their home base, to set the truck�s speed limiter at a maximum speed of 105 km/h.”

About the poll:

These results are based on the Road Safety Monitor, an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 1,200 Canadian drivers completed the poll in September and October of 2009. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 2.9%, 19 times out of 20.

The Road Safety Monitor 2009 is sponsored by the Brewers Association of Canada, Transport Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

Results of this poll appear in The Road Safety Monitor 2009: Large Trucks in Canada, available at www.tirf.ca.

About TIRF

Established in 1964, TIRF�s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.