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Driver fatigue identified as a top health and safety risk for trucking operations in Ontario

Top 10 root causes of driver fatigue among professional truck drivers in Ontario

In February 2020, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) in partnership with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) organized a group of industry experts that met for two days to determine the root causes of driver fatigue in Ontario’s trucking sector. As part of their work, they also developed critical controls and specific activities that could be put in place to address driver fatigue in Ontario’s general trucking industry.

The list of the top 10 causes of driver fatigue, as identified by workers, supervisors, and employers in Ontario’s trucking sector is displayed in the infographic on pages 34-35 of Private Motor Carrier. More detailed information on the top causes of driver fatigue among professional truck drivers, is discussed in the accompanying technical paper available at www.ihsa.ca/driverfatigue.

Identifying solutions and controls

After identifying the top 10 causal factors of driver fatigue, the group of subject matter experts, led by Dr. Sujoy Dey of the MLTSD, identified possible solutions and controls for the top ranked risks. During the discussions, similar themes and proposed controls kept emerging that informed five key recommendations:

  • classify truck driving as a skilled trade (Red Seal),
  • review and address critical training gaps in mandatory entry-level training (MELT),
  • mandatory graduated licensing for all truck drivers,
  • greater enforcement of carriers who are non-compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Highway Traffic Act, and
  • promote mental health and wellness among professional truck drivers.

These recommendations provide a foundation for the reduction in driver fatigue by focussing on systemic causal factors and not just the symptoms of driver fatigue. The trucking industry should focus immediately on addressing these five key recommendations.

“The group of industry experts shared their experience, made suggestions, and proposed potential controls to address the primary causal factors and identified systemic weaknesses in the industry,” says Michelle Roberts, IHSA Director, Stakeholder & Client Engagement. “IHSA is proud of our work as an advocate for improving professional truck driver training, non-compliant carrier enforcement, and the importance of driver mental health and wellness. This work is a strong first step toward meaningful changes for safer and healthier workplaces for professional truck drivers.”

Current News

A Critique of MTO’s Response to SPR’s 2018 Truck Parking Study

By Ted Harvey, SPR Associates Inc.

Background
In May 2018, SPR Associates of Toronto submitted a report to The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) on long-haul truck parking and rest areas along Southern Ontario Highways. This $280,000 Study involved a major review of truck parking in Southern Ontario and was led by Dr. Ted Harvey of SPR, with a U.S. and Canadian advisory panel of engineers and transportation and safety specialists. This state-of-the-art project was the most thorough study of this issue ever conducted in Canada, or perhaps anywhere, with engineering simulations based on over 450,000 truck trips on 25 highway segments, and online surveys of over 2,300 Canadian and U.S. truck drivers. Several hundred trucking companies were also surveyed. The goal of the Study was to assess the extent to which there is a shortage of truck parking and rest areas in Ontario and to make recommendations to address this issue.


The Study focused mainly on the highway 401 corridor from Detroit-Windsor to the Québec border, but with attention also to other 400 highways and rural areas. The 400 corridor, used by some 40,000 trucks per day, is a vital part of the supply chain for the Greater Toronto Area as well as the rest of Ontario. The surveys yielded detailed estimates of the need for parking on 25 Ontario highway segments and for over 70 existing truck stops. Drivers provided over 60,000 ratings of the difficulty of finding parking at all these locations. We also examined the history of implementation of Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations which limit driving hours to ensure rest. HOS drives the parking shortage and has been neglected by MTO for the past 15 years. On January 7, 2021, MTO issued a press release describing their proposed remedies to the parking shortage. 

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