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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Thief steals donation box, tip jar from Oak Bay businesses

Oak Bay Police Department looking for suspect

Dog dies, Victoria man arrested after incident in Oaklands

Police called to ‘incident between a man and a dog’ Monday afternoon

George Jay parents tired of dog poop left on school’s fields

Parents advocate for stronger fines, more signage in the neighbourhood

VIDEO: Greater Victoria mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Gene Simmons to launch new Titans of Rock music festival in Grand Forks

The rock legend has partnered with Chuck Varabioff to run Titans of Rock in Grand Forks

Most Read