Line One
Trucker Perspectives
Dangerous cargo

By G. Ray Gompf, Ottawa, Ontario

There is something about the way we transport “dangerous goods” (aka hazmat in the U.S.) that has bothered me for years. I have been involved in the trucking industry for a lot of years and transported dangerous goods to the other side of the Canada/USA border over and over again. The thing that bothers me is this. As a trucker, I’m asked to take training on the handling of dangerous goods and I don’t mind, in fact it’s incumbent on me to know as much as I can about those loads I have had to carry. It’s also incumbent on every other person who handles dangerous goods to avail themselves of such training — and like I said, rightly so.

What really frosts me is this: We truckers must share the road with people who have absolutely no idea that dangerous goods exist — or care. They don’t understand the laws of physics. It matters not to them that we may have some really dangerous cargo that could just as easily put their life in jeopardy as their stupid actions around us put us at high risk. 

It is my feeling, and has been my feeling for a lot of years, that too much emphasis can be paid to the trucker’s training, and there is none to the general public who share the roads with us. 

Perhaps, the placards categories and their meanings could be placed in each driver’s handbook, and a general knowledge test question or questions on everyone’s driver examination, could solve the problem and make the general public more aware and thus make the roads just a little safer for those of us who have to transport these products on a daily basis.

Editor’s note: The overwhelming majority of accidents are due to driver error. Given this fact, there is no excuse for the lack of meaningful and ongoing driver education and training programs.