More work needs to be done by all drivers to prevent accidents involving large trucks. Photo: Bjørn Bulthius.

New report highlights need for drivers to be truck-aware on the highway

Heavy commercial vehicles are 3% of vehicles in B.C., but are involved in 19% of fatal collisions

The Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia has released a new report, “An Independent Audit of Commercial Vehicle Safety”.

On average, over the past 10 years in B.C., about 300 people per year have died in motor vehicle incidents, with almost 20 per cent of those incidents involving a heavy commercial vehicle. The road-safety goal is zero fatal collisions. Everyone needs to be more aware of commercial vehicles when using the roads.

Heavy commercial vehicles, such as dump trucks, container trucks, and semi-trailers, represent about 3 per cent of vehicles registered in B.C., yet they are involved in 19 per cent of fatal collisions in the province. In the majority of fatal collisions involving a heavy commercial vehicle, the commercial driver is not at fault.

Safety, education, and awareness programs for road users on safe driving in and around commercial vehicles can prevent crashes. However, these programs are limited in B.C. because even though multiple organizations are involved, none have the budget or authority for overall responsibility. The report recommends that government establishes clear responsibility for the promotion of commercial vehicle road safety education and awareness.

Government also needs to review the standards for commercial driver licensing. In B.C., drivers are not required to take driver training to get their commercial licence. Government does not know whether commercial driving standards in B.C. are adequate, but has recently started to address this issue.

The report also recommends that government do more to ensure commercial vehicles are operating safely on B.C.’s roads. For example, government does not have a clear and effective system to hold licensed private inspection facilities accountable for complying with commercial vehicle safety standards. Also, commercial vehicle safety and enforcement officers have a challenging job and could be more effective with better supports.

Government collects a lot of data regarding road safety, but it has not analyzed the data to know if its commercial vehicle safety programs are effective. Better data analysis would allow government to know how well its programs and activities are meeting its safety goals.

“Over the past three years, roadside inspection and enforcement activities with commercial vehicles in B.C. prevented an estimated 1,100 crashes, including four fatalities and more than 260 injuries,” says auditor general Carol Bellringer. “Government should use this type of data analysis to set clear targets and allocate resources efficiently to meet its targets.

“We would like to thank everyone who helped with our audit. In particular, when we were out on the roads with the commercial vehicle safety and enforcement officers, we saw how important the work they do is and how dedicated and committed they are. We saw how all road users have a role to play in road safety.”

To view the “Be Truck Aware” safe driving tips, visit http://bit.ly/2C5fkFL. “An Independent Audit of Commercial Vehicle Safety” is available in full on the Office of the Auditor General website (www.bcauditor.com).

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