Widow’s petition demands mandatory training for truckers

Truck driver Stephen Babij was killed in a head on semi truck collision on Highway 1 in 2017

A widow has launched a petition demanding national training standards for semi truck drivers.

Stephen Babij was killed in a head on collision on Highway 1 between Revelstoke and Golden in March 2017 when the other driver crossed the middle line. Both Babij and the other driver were in semi trucks. Babij’s dog was also killed in the crash.

READ MORE: Fiery crash kills one, closes Highway 1

“He always complained about the lack of training of commercial Class 1 drivers before he was killed,” says Pattie Fair, Babij’s widow.

Fair’s petition asks the House of Commons to regulate the Class 1 commercial licence and for it to be considered a skilled trade, make it easier for prospective drivers to get funding for training, store and collect information on training for each commercial driver and implement a mandatory entry-level training curriculum.

Stephen Babij was a hay broker. On that fateful day he was transporting straw. He usually drove with his dog in the cab. (Submitted)

At the moment, Fair says hair stylers have more requirements than truck drivers.

“And I don’t mean any disrespect to hair stylers whatsoever. I’m glad they have that training, but I don’t understand why mechanics, carpenters, hair stylers, are all considered professional trades. But a Class 1 professional driver isn’t.”

So far, only Ontario requires truckers to take a training course. However, Saskatchewan and Alberta are making it mandatory this spring.

Fair says it’s important for this to be federal legislation, not just provincial.

“Right now, if you get a license in Saskatchewan with just a single cab and a flat deck trailer, tomorrow you can come to B.C. over mountain passes and haul logs.”

As of Jan. 23, the petition has more than 2,500 signatures from across Canada and was posted on the House of Commons website last week after it was sponsored by Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block.

Fair says she is receiving an overwhelming amount of support from industry and in particular truck drivers.

“I was expecting more push back. That really surprised me. There are some truck drivers that have told me that they don’t feel safe driving.”

Babij had been driving semi trucks for more than 20 years. Fair and her husband owned/operated a family farm and Babij was a hay broker. On that fateful day in March 2017, he was transporting straw. However, after her husband died, Fair says she had no choice to let the business go.

“I had to write off the truck, trailer, and my husband. That was our business. The truck, the trailer, and my husband. There was nothing left,” says Fair.

“I had to replace his truck and a driver within a week and I couldn’t. I just couldn’t recover that quickly.”

Media at the time described the crash as “Fiery”. There are four vehicles involved. A third semi headed eastbound collided with the crash scene. Also an SUV also suffered front-end damage. The drivers of both those vehicles experienced minor injuries, police say. (File)

Fair says her husband loved his snow mobile, was a mountain man and was always more than willing to help other truckers.

“He helped people at brake checks all the time when drivers had to put chains on. He use to tell me all the time that drivers didn’t know how to put chains on.”

“People don’t necessarily believe me that some drivers don’t know how to put chains on. It’s pretty well known in the trucking industry. And the government is okay with that? I don’t get it,” says Fair.

In November last year, the B.C. government amended the Motor Vehicle Act that included new chain up requirements. However, there are no requirements for drivers to learn how to put chains on.

READ MORE: New chain-up regulations for commercial vehicles

“I’m trying to do something positive because I feel like my husband’s and dog’s life, our business and farm was taken. And it wasn’t really a big deal to the government,” says Fair.

However, things are changing. After the Humboldt Broncos hockey team accident that killed 16 people last April, calls for mandatory training has intensified.

READ MORE: Truck driver in Broncos crash pleads guilty

On Jan. 21, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced that new regulations for semi truck drivers will take effect country-wide next year, but few details have been released. Garneau noted that there will be a minimum entry-level training standard.

A link to Fair’s petition can be found at https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2005&fbclid=IwAR2nz5i5mM2-uRe_EeX7KRywQJfVesQOitavrFAj6_eLW7Oez5YDUyEHLW8

Fair has also created a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Safer-Public-Roadways-for-Steve-and-Zak-241879183058180/


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Stephen Babij was a hay broker. On that fateful day he was transporting straw. He usually drove with his dog in the cab. (Submitted)

In better and lighter times. (Facebook)

“He always complained about the lack of training of commercial class 1 drivers before he was killed,” says Pattie Fair, Babij’s widow. (Submitted)

Pattie Fair says she is receiving an overwhelming amount of support from truck drivers. (Submitted)

Fair says her husband loved his snow mobile and was a mountain guy. And was always more than willing to help other truckers. (Submitted)

Pattie Fair has submitted a petition to the House of Commons that demands national training for semi truck drivers. (Submitted)

Just Posted

Nelson’s Charlie PS shortlisted for CBC award

Voting ends Tuesday for the prize

Nelson Nordic Club gets nerdy at provincials

The club had several podium finishes at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Bronze for Nelson boxer at Canada Winter Games

Brayden Hellekson defeated Seamus O’Brien on Wednesday

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read