Amalgamated Transit Union Urges the Conservative Government to improve safety on Canadian roadways

March 31, 2014 9:20 am

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has been advocating for awareness around inter-city driver fatigue for years. As President and Business Agent of ATU Local 1624, representing drivers for Coach Canada, my local and I have been calling on the Conservative Government to make legislative changes to address driver fatigue in our industry.

As inter-city drivers, we have witnessed some of the most horrific traffic accidents and fatalities firsthand. We drive precious cargo every day in the form of human life, so we are requesting the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, to develop solutions which will go a long way to make our industry safer, which will help prevent unnecessary tragedies from occurring on Canadian roadways.

Among the changes we have been advocating for include a 10 hour maximum drive time per day, a 14 hour-maximum on duty per day, a 10 hour-minimum of core rest between shifts and equipping all motor coach vehicles with electronic logging technology.

Our local feels current regulations and legislation work minimally at best and do not come close to lessen or prevent fatigue from occurring. In 2013, Transport Canada helped develop the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP), which is a tool to educate drivers, their families and carriers about how to manage fatigue. We feel this tool may compliment legislative amendments we are backing, but on its own, essentially useless under the current Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service legislation.

The ATU Local 1624 Team

The ATU Local 1624 Team

In a previous interview with Ottawa Life Magazine, Raitt said Transport Canada is participating on a Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) Project Group to develop logging technology for commercial vehicles. This type of regulation will help prevent falsification of logbooks, yet it is one step out of many that still need to happen to improve the safety in our industry to help keep passengers, drivers and the public safe.

During a speech Raitt gave to the Canadian Club of Ottawa speaking about transportation safety, Raitt said, “We need to make all parts of our transportation network as safe as possible, in order to maintain the confidence of all who rely on it.” Raitt added, “Without such confidence, no means of transportation is worth the price of either a traveller’s ticket or a shipper’s contract.”

If the Canadian public is to believe this, we are advising Raitt to find solutions that work for our industry, and listen to our requests with the utmost seriousness. Local 1624 feel the Conservative Government should take a more proactive approach to driver safety, and listen to drivers and the public who wish to improve safety measures on Canadian roadways.

Our local has received tremendous support on this issue from Members of Parliament (MPs), ATU officials, ATU locals and the public. In January 2014, I was invited to speak at a conference hosted by Association Canadienne des Conducteurs Professionnels d’Autocar in Drummondville, Quebec. During the conference, I addressed intercity drivers from across Canada who were in full support of our proposed legislative changes and were eager to sign our petition to help save lives. To further our efforts, we have recently sent all MPs an informational letter and video featuring ATU officials including Mike Mahar, Director for the Canadian Council, speaking about driver fatigue.

The information provided has sparked interest among politicians including Jay Aspin, MP for the Conservative Party. Aspin has 25 years of experience in the over-the-road industry in Ontario prior to entering politics and understands the necessity of our campaign. ATU officials met with Aspin earlier this month in Ottawa. It is the ATU’s hope that Aspin can take the recommended legislative changes and introduce them as a government bill. ATU 1624 is urging everyone who cares about road safety for Canadians to visit our website at atu1624.ca and sign our petition. Tell the Government that you demand change in order to save countless lives on Canadian roadways.

As a union, we look to make positive changes not just for a select few, but for the good of society as a whole. That is what the labour movement has been about. We will continue to fight for change for the betterment of the Canadian public.

Road safety for Canadians is ATU 1624’s top priority. We thank everyone for their continued support and for those who have visited our website, read our campaign letter to Raitt and signed our petition.

Allan Medd headshot Written by: Allan Medd, President and Business Agent of ATU Local 1624.

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