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The Contrarian: The Humboldt Crash

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We church-goers hear atheists saying “if there is a God, why would he allow disasters like the Humboldt Crash?” Of course they have a point, but there are disasters and cruelties happen every day, and we can only say “God works in mysterious ways”.

The Humboldt crash tugs at our heartstrings in so many ways, so many promising lives destroyed through no fault of their own. While we grieve for the victims, we should also look for anything good which might come out of it.

Certainly the outpouring of affection and support around the world says so much good about humanity and is a good thing.

My life is simple, I just blame the government for everything, and there may be another and more important positive result from the huge amount of publicity generated. It is focusing attention on the trucking business and especially the licencing of big truck drivers in a way that cannot be ignored, and so will no doubt result in government addressing some of the issues.

There was a time when the best drivers on the road were piloting the big long-haul rigs. Today’s trucks do not require anything like the skill level of those under-powered, double-clutching rigs of say 50 years ago, and sadly, as the trucks get better a growing proportion of the drivers do not measure up.

There are still some professional truckers that we admire, always obeying the speed limit and paying attention to road conditions, operating with concern for minimizing fuel consumption and wear and tear on the truck, fully aware and respectful of the traffic around them. Knights of the road, to be admired.

But, we know there is a new kind of driver out there; we see them here in the northwest, where all the transnational traffic gets choked down to our two lane highway. We see the rigs in the ditch, and up on top of rock cuts, and even in the river.

We know we cannot depend on our having a green light protecting us as we go from North Dryden to downtown, because too many of these guys blow the red light on highway 17, not worth their time to stop. We know because we have all seen big rigs doing strange things on the highway, so when ‘accidents’ happen we do not believe their explanations that the deceased ‘veered in front of me’.

We know because we are half way between Toronto and Vancouver so we get more than our share of fatigued drivers.

Not to pre-judge the trucker involved, his fate will be decided by the courts, and his life is already ruined. Not to pre-judge truckers in general, it is a very competitive business, wages and returns are probably too low, but government needs to review the rules they operate under.

Probably what is needed is not new rules so much as clarification and enforcement of the rules already there.

The best thing Donald Trump has done so far is his edict “for every new regulation we pass, two old obsolete ones have to be cancelled”. Just another Contrarian opinion.

This column was first published in The Dryden Observer on May 2, 2018

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