The roadways are many different things to many different people; for some it is a way to explore the world, others see it as a method of visiting family or friends, for others it is a way to escape, yet others use our roads simply to commute back and forth as they grind through life. For companies, our roadways are the arteries that keep products flowing between plants, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, jobsites – an endless list really.
What is interesting to me, as someone who works in road transportation daily, is that many people fail to recognize how vulnerable they are every single time they get behind the wheel. Whether it is an aged driver whose perception may be slowed only slightly less than their processing and reaction time, a youthful driver oblivious to the power they are now licensed to drive and all of the inherent risks involved, or the family van – full of distractions long before texting was on the radar; there are a number of challenges on the roads that make it a near miracle every day that you get home safe.
As governments try to regulate common sense in an effort to improve road safety, I am continually frustrated by the seeming lack of courage to do the right thing to really improve road safety. The transportation industry has been asking for it for a long time, and there is a move in Alberta and across Canada to lobby government to make meaningful improvements in road safety. An easy fix really, we have asked the government to simply required commercial drivers to receive training and certification in order to be legally allowed to operate as a commercial driver.
I understand that businesses rarely ask for more regulation, but in this case it makes sense. While the rest of us may put miles on our vehicles, we still spend many hours daily otherwise occupied in our careers. For professional drivers, their day IS driving. Their exposure to the risks I mentioned above are significantly higher than for the rest of us. When they are sick, tired, mentally stressed, or whatever else, they still drive. Through all types of weather, surrounded by all skill levels of drivers (with some it should not be called skill), driving on both familiar roads and areas they have never seen before, all with some sort of pressure to perform their job in a safe, professional and timely manner, these professionals experience pressures of driving beyond what 90% of us ever will. Yet, the government does not seem to want to agree that they (professional drivers) should be required to have any special training or certification.
I hope you understand that the trucking industry is asking for this regulation. I have spent hours upon hours in committee meetings and industry consultation hearing how important this is to improve road safety for both professional drivers and the motoring public. What we need now is for politicians across this country to get off their hands and make some real strides in the right direction. As roadways get more and more congested, and our cities get larger and larger, we need to begin to recognize that safety is not going to happen by itself. We need the people who are on the roads the most to be properly trained and certified to ensure safer roads for all users.