The organization that represents truck drivers in Atlantic Canada says the accident that killed a man when part of a tractor-trailer crashed into the van he was driving is an anomaly.

Halifax Regional Police are continuing their investigation into the fatal collision last week on Barrington Street, when a tractor-trailer broke free from its cab and slammed into a minivan, killing a man in his 40s who was driving to work.

Jean Marc Picard, with the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, said the accident was an anomaly.

The trucking industry must meet rigorous daily requirements including the National Safety Code, he said, which mandates inspections before each trip.

"Every trip a driver does he has to go through an inspection of his equipment to make sure equipment is up to snuff and is meeting the code," said Picard.

"From headlights to tail lights to coupling devices to air brakes — they have to check everything."

While it is rare for a tractor-trailer to detach from its cab. It has happened before. Last May in New York state, a tractor-trailer came loose, crossed the centre line and slammed into a minivan killing seven people.

It was an accident eerily similar to the one that happened in Halifax last week.

Officers were called to the A. Murray MacKay Bridge ramp near Africville Road on Friday morning. Police said it appeared the trailer separated from the cab, crossed the centre line and crushed more than half the van.

The name of the victim has not been released.

Safety top of mind

The victim's family and the driver of the truck aren't far from the minds of students at the Commercial Safety College in Debert, where future truck drivers are taught how to safely hook up tractor-trailers to cabs.

"Always check your fifth wheel couplings, never fail to check them," said instructor Brian MacKay.

That's MacKay's most important rule for new drivers since that is the mechanism that holds the trailer to the cab.

There are 12 steps to ensuring it's done safely. They include checking that the trailer is at the right height and looking underneath to ensure the cab is lined up with the fifth wheel pin.

After the cab is backed up, the trailer should click into place and a thorough visual check of the connection should be performed, said MacKay.

"If it's dark, use a flashlight to see up in there. The jaws are wrapped around the pin, so this would be considered a safe coupling," he said.