Do as N.Y. does, Canadians: Get tractor trailers off the roads during storms


National Post, 21 March 2017

If the tractor-trailers were off the highways, the number of accidents would be greatly diminished. Moreover, the severity of accidents would be diminished

Eighteen years ago, Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman was ridiculed for calling in the armed forces to clear the snow after the great blizzard of January 1999. Mel, who’s laughing now?

During last week’s snowstorm — which was nothing like the storm of 1999 — Highway 13 in Montreal was so clogged that hundreds of drivers spent more than 12 hours in their cars, stranded overnight. At the same time, the nation’s busiest road, Highway 401, was closed in both directions just a short distance from where I live, due to a multi-truck and car pileup. Further complicating matters just east of Gananoque, one tractor-trailer was carrying hazardous chemicals, leading to an evacuation of nearby residents, dozens of people taken to hospital, and the closing of that section of the highway for some two days as the cleanup was attended to.

The fiasco in Montreal was so bad that senior officials in the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) were suspended pending an investigation. The hapless SQ, desperate to find a scapegoat, then arrested a truck driver caught in the jam, charging him with whatever trumped-up nonsense they could find. It must be convenient to be a police force; not only can they blame the innocent for their mistakes, they can arrest them. The ministry of transport was AWOL at certain points during the overnight fiasco, confirming that in Montreal public authorities are not only incapable of competently building infrastructure but also operating safely what they do have.

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