TORONTO -The jury form a coroner's inquest into two Ontario deaths caused by runaway truck wheels ahs produced 31 recommendations to improve highway safety. And first on the extensive list of recommendations is the establishment of mandatory training and certification program for "all individuals involved in (truck) tire and wheel installation."
According to Ontario Tire Dealers Association Executive Director R.B. Arthurs, that means actual legislation is soon to follow.
"When there's a coroner's inquest recommendation, it's usually not long before it's law," Mr. Arthurs said shortly after reading the jury's report.
Public outrage over the deaths of Angela Worona and James Tyrell in seperate vehicular collisions with runaway truck tire and wheel assemblies this year prompted the month-long, joint ocroner's inquest, which ended Oct. 30.
In part because of the media frenzy covering runaway wheels, the Ontario Trucking Association, Canadian Transportation Equipment Association, and the tire service industry have begun developing a mandatory training program for servicers of heavy-duty wheel end systems in Ontario.
Now, following the inquest recommendations, it appears a mandatroy program is likely to appear in the province." I was hopeful that some good would come thom all of this," said OTA President David Bradley. "What I mant by some good was to improve highway safety."
Jurors listened to nearly one month of testimony form experts regarding truck safety during he inquest, including recommendations form the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and the OTA, which provided 12 of its own suggestions - many of wich were mirrored by the final recommendations - for improving safety.
Among the jury's recommendations that potentially could affect tire dealers were the following:
Tagging wheels after installation with re-torquing specifications in order to ensure re-torquing is performed on time;
Having mechanics "red tag" trucks and trailers with hazardous defects;
Educating truck owners and drivers on the consequences of not performing a 27-point pre-trip inspection;
Rewirintn wheel and rim specifications so "any single loose, missing, broken, cracked or strpped fastner results in an out of service condition"; and
Banning cosmetic wheel and nut covers.
But requiring training and certifying of those who work on truck wheel seems top priority in the province, Mr. Arthurs said.
Although, the OTDA currently runs its own free training program, it is difficult to attract dealers, he admitted.
"We're trying to get out members to certify their men, but it's like pulling teeth," the OTDRA director said.
Dealers may be changing their minds - even before ligislation if proposed, however - as a result of th media attention directed at wheel separations and the need for mechanic training. The OTDA's January training program is already booked full.
``The members are starting to see the light,'' Mr. Arthurs said.
Still, many dealers are concerned about the possibility of further government intervention. ``We'd like to do it (training) ourselves,'' Mr. Arthurs said.
While many believe a training mandate is inevitable at this point, James Stewart, manager of J.D. McArthur Tire Service in Owen Sound, Ontario, does not believe the government's intrusion will be overbearing.
``It's still going to rely on the tire dealer himself (to train his employees),'' Mr. Stewart said, adding he does not believe the government will invest money into supporting a training mandate.
Still, Mr. Stewart is for a mandated training program.
``It would be nice to have people come in (for a job) that already were trained,'' he said because his firm spends a lot of time and money on in-house training.
Many of the jury's recommendations targeted Canadian and Ontario governmental agency policies and procedures or the truck drivers themselves.