More than 200 truck drivers took to GTA highways in protest on Wednesday morning, to bring attention to what they say is an unfair increase in insurance.
The trucks began their slow drive along the Gardiner Expressway around 7 a.m. They then headed north up the Don Valley Parkway and turned on to Highway 401, travelling westbound to Highway 410.
OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said they were aware of the protest and working with organizers.
Jagroop Singh, Director of the Ontario Aggregate Trucking Association said the demonstration was held to protest the 40 per cent increase in commercial trucking insurance over the past two years.
“The truckers were really upset about the increment in insurance. So we drove around the city to show the government that we are fed up,” he said.
A trucking insurance broker who spoke with CityNews on condition of anonymity says good drivers were paying about $10,000 a year. With the rate increases they could easily be paying $12,000 now.
In addition, he says insurers are no longer renewing the policies of mediocre or bad drivers at all, likely due to a number of bad accidents in recent years where the truckers were at fault.
Singh says that the problem they are protesting lies with the insurance companies, brokers and the government and claims truck drivers pay more insurance in Ontario than other provinces. In addition, he says insurance rates go up without any notice and the government should monitor insurance companies and what he calls their unfair practices.
“If someone cancels your policy, the other companies they won’t give you insurance because you have been cancelled [from another company]. They are playing with us.”
According to the insurance broker, insuring a truck driver depends on many factors — the driver’s accident record and industry accident rates being foremost. Other factors include truck maintenance, regulatory compliance, how far a trucker goes, and what they are hauling. He adds that in the trucking insurance industry, dump truck drivers are considered high-risk.
But Singh says the criteria for insuring a commercial vehicle is stacked against drivers, especially new ones.
“The Ministry of Transportation — they provide you a Z license. That means someone with a license is capable [of driving a truck],” he says. However, Singh claims when licensed truck drivers try to get insured, they are often refused due to lack of experience with sand and gravel loads.
“You need three years experience in a particular field. So what are we going to do? Bring the three years experience from sand and gravel?” he says.
Singh says truck drivers want the province to step in and Wednesday’s protest may be followed up with another next week.
“We’re going to go next time … to the front of Queens Park. If government doesn’t listen to us and if insurance companies don’t stop doing this, we are going to increase from 200 to 500 trucks on the roads,” he said.
Provincial transportation minister Jeff Yurek said he didn’t know what was being protested but added that he didn’t support the drivers’ methods.
“I haven’t seen that protest but anything that endangers the safety of people on the roads, I don’t support,” he told the media at a speaking event Wednesday morning. “I wouldn’t support anyone protesting by stopping on our 400 series highways at all. I think that’s wrong.”