Number of collisions on 401 between Cambridge and Milton 'taxing' OPP
'These collisions are happening as a result of someone's behaviour:' Sgt. Kerry Schmidt
Ontario Provincial Police are reminding truck drivers to leave a safe distance between themselves and other vehicles after officers responded to four collisions on Highway 401 between Cambridge and Milton in less than two weeks.
The collisions, which happened on Oct. 11, 17, 18 and 20, all involved at least one transport truck, and closed the highway in one direction or the other for multiple hours.
- Oct. 20: 401 closes for 4th time in 9 days between Milton and Cambridge
- Oct. 18: Morning commute crawls as third collision in a week closes 401
- Oct. 17: Westbound Highway 401 lanes reopen after multi-vehicle crash
- Oct. 11: Westbound 401 at Hwy 6 reopens after tractor-trailer collision
"I don't want to paint [the picture] that our commercial vehicle industry is failing, because it's not," said Sgt. Kerry Schmidt with the OPP Highway Safety Division. "But when a commercial vehicle is involved in a wreck and there's injuries or there's a spill of some sort, the cleanup can be significant and the delays can be extensive."
Lengthy cleanup and delays
Schmidt said cleaning up after one of these incidents involves heavy machinery, including sweeper and vacuum trucks. Sometimes, the road has to be repaved.
"It's not just a tow truck and a shovel and a broom," he said. "We've seen that very real over the last few days here with heavy, heavy closures for many hours that have affected hundreds of thousands of drivers."
Friday's incident, which involved a tractor trailer fire and diesel spill, closed the eastbound lanes of the highway for most of the day.
'Not accidents at all'
The high number of collisions on the 401 over the past two weeks is "a bit of an anomaly," according to Schmidt, even though that length of the highway between Cambridge and Milton is known as a problem spot.
"I don't call them accidents, because in most cases these collisions are happening as a result of someone's behaviour - some action - that is preventable," Schmidt said. "They're not accidents at all. These are drivers that are either willfully or ignorantly making decisions that are affecting public safety and traffic safety to everyone they share the road with as well as themselves."
The increase in collisions has taken its toll on OPP officers in the Highway Safety Division, whom Schmidt said are "being stretched when these collisions continue to happen."
"We have coverage from other neighbouring detachments that can come and assist us when we're tied up at major calls," he said. "So, we have strategies in place where we're able to still manage calls that come through, but it is taxing on us."
He said most of the recent collisions were caused by carelessness on the part of the truck driver and that the OPP will be promoting truck driver safety in the weeks to come.