Reducing the speed limit for commercial trucks along Highway 5A would achieve the same effect as a ban sought by residents and MLA Kevin Krueger, says a professional driving instructor.
Ray Trenholm, who manages the professional driver-training program at TRU, said reducing the limit to 70 km/h would be an effective deterrent to commercial truckers.
The route could be assigned two limits, 80 km/h for non-commercial traffic and 70 km/h for commercial trucks, he suggested.
“I have been on many routes in the States that are speed-limited and (truckers) avoid them like the plague,” said Trenholm, a commercial driver for 33 years. “At 70 km/h, there’s no way I’d take it as a truck driver. Why would you want to take a goat trail when you can take a freeway?”
Increasing volumes of commercial traffic along the two-lane Highway 5A, as well as a string of accidents involving semi-trailers and close calls, have area residents concerned about safety and environmental hazards.
Trenholm doesn’t believe that banning non-resident commercial trucks is a viable approach because it would be too difficult to enforce. Every license plate would have to be checked to determine whether the vehicle was local or not.
“The whole point is that they’ll never get a road ban,” he said. “It’s like any other politically sensitive issue.”
Bob Swart, who is spearheading a petition to have a non-resident commercial truck ban imposed, said Trenholm’s idea is the first positive input from the industry that he’s heard.
“Essentially, it’s all based on safety, so any improvement toward that is what we are seeking,” Swart said. “We know we’re not going to stop all accidents.”
He said the petition drive will continue until month’s end, at which point it will goes to Krueger for tabling in the legislature.
Trenholm said commercial truckers are using Highway 5A for two reasons — to avoid the weigh scale on the Coquihalla highway and to save on fuel costs.
Once truckers learn of a reduced speed limit, backed up by enforcement, word will spread quickly in the industry, he predicted.
Even if some drivers choose to stay the course and drive the route at reduced speed, improved safety will have been achieved.
“At 70 km/h, trucks are not going to be crashing, even if they do take it.”