After deadly year, OPP stops thousands of trucks in 5-day safety blitz

Hundreds of charges were laid in a five-day special transport truck-focused safety blitz this month, Ontario Provincial Police say.

There have been around 87 fatal collisions involving trucks on highways so far in 2017

Officers patrolled Ontario highways in two transport trucks in a safety blitz from Dec. 11 to 15. (Nicole Martin/CBC)

Over a thousand charges were laid in a five-day special transport truck-focused safety blitz this month, Ontario Provincial Police say.

Operation Safe Trucking saw thousands of trucks stopped from Dec.11 to 15, after a deadly year that saw 87 fatal collisions involving trucks on Ontario highways.

"Despite giving advance notice, the Ontario Provincial Police stopped close to 3,500 commercial motor vehicles, laid 1,836 charges and took 71 unsafe commercial motor vehicles out of service," the force said in a release. 

Officers rode in two OPP transport trucks during the blitz to give them a better vantage point to spot distracted, impaired and aggressive drivers. 

Aircraft and sprinter vans were also used for enforcement. The officers in the transport trucks did not pull over vehicles but alerted patrol officers once they spotted drivers breaking the law. 

The majority of the charges laid can be broken down as:

  • 537 improper documentation charges
  • 223 distracted driving charges 
  • 336 speeding charges
  • 111 charges for following too close 
  • 185 charges for other moving violations
  • 185 defective equipment charges

But truck drivers were not the only ones ticketed during the blitz. 

The remaining charges were laid against passenger vehicles for violations that include speeding and dangerous driving. 

Passenger vehicles also charged

We got complaints from both sides of the aisle, where truck drivers also complained about cars cutting in front of them, taking away their following distance, driving in their blind spots," OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told CBC Toronto. 

The OPP has responded to over 6,200 collisions that involve transport trucks this year.
A 'catastrophic' fatal pileup on Highway 400 in November, shown here, may have been caused by 'inattentive' truck driver, OPP say. (Kerry Schmidt/Twitter)

"Regardless of what the causes or factors are, our OPP data tells us that the driver of the transport truck is at fault in 65 per cent of the 6,200 collisions," said OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair previously told CBC News in an interview.

"These kinds of numbers are not something we want to see continue. There are thousands of vehicles at any given time on any stretch of highway. If even one of those get distracted or drive aggressively, it can have a huge ripple down effect," Schmidt said. 

Truck patrol could continue

This is the first time OPP officers have used a transport truck to patrol the highways, Schmidt said. The trucks are normally used to deliver OPP vehicles across the province but the success of this program means the initiative could be continued in the future, he added. 

"When they are not being used for that, they can also be used for continued enforce action as well," said Schmidt, adding that the decision will be in the hands of command staff.