What Will the Humboldt Legacy Be?

We have all heard about last year’s tragic crash in Saskatchewan. 13 lives lost plus so many injured. Many of the injured will suffer bodily pain and suffering for the rest of their lives and let us not forget about their mental health. There are also the unknown victims: the parents, brothers, sisters and those that loved people on the bus. The community will forever
be changed.

Then there is the truck driver. Although he violated many laws that day and for days prior to the crash, I don’t believe that he ever intended to kill that day. Nor did he think that the illegal actions that he was taking would result in changing so many lives, including his own, his loved ones and that of an entire industry and country.

So, what will the legacy of this tragedy be? What will the long-term effect be on the trucking industry?

I’ve frequently been asked what I think about the impact of this event. We have already started to see the first impact. The Province of Ontario has for over a year now had its MELT (Minimum Entry Level Training) program for the tractor trailer and now other provinces have started to also put minimums into place. Anecdotal evidence in Ontario says that a newly licensed tractor-trailer driver is a better driver than ever before. And that is having a positive impact on the trucking industry.

Will a version of the MELT program roll out to every Province in Canada? That could be the first impact the Humboldt crash could have. Will the Federal Government mandate some sort of Minimum Entry Level Training for all of Canada? What improvements could be made to MELT? We know that MELT is a good start, but where will it go from here?

Okay, so I believe and hope that Minimum Entry Level Training will move across Canada. What is another impact the Humboldt catastrophic crash could have? How about ELDs?

Yes, Electronic Logging Devices. Will Humboldt cause an earlier implementation date of these logging devices? Many trucking companies have already taken the step, and some are not even cross border truckers. The United States has already moved forward on ELDs, with full compliance coming December 2019.

So, I think the above two are rather apparent changes that are either in the midst of being implemented or about to be.

How will Humboldt directly affect drivers? Will the transportation segments of each Province be told to concentrate more on Hours of Service at the Roadside Inspection Stations (Scales)? What about our truck driver training schools? I believe that outside of the Province of Ontario, they will be significantly affected whether or not a MELT is introduced. The authorities must currently be looking deeper into this issue.

Let’s not forget the trucking company owners. Yes, I know that as of the date of writing, the owner of the trucking company involved in Humboldt has been charged with eight offences and not yet convicted of anything. I do expect that the owner will be sentenced to something BUT, the charges are really quite minimal. The charge is a maximum penalty of $5,000 per charge. We need to remember that owners are responsible for the actions of their drivers and lives were lost, others were injured, and countless lives changed forever. Are eight $5,000 penalties harsh enough?

I for one believe that owners should be held to a high standard. I know that they are not in the cab with the drivers BUT, it is all too frequent that they (owners) choose not to put strong policies in place because of the driver shortage. They tell me that they can’t hire drivers and therefore, they can’t discipline their drivers. The recourse for this approach by owners is that the government agencies responsible for the safety of our roads need to have more prominent teeth.

Drivers, work for someone who cares, who cares about your well-being, who cares about your safety on the road and who cares for others as much as they care for their own.

Be safe out there!

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.