Dealing with emergencies
Emergency warning devices and procedures
Every commercial motor vehicle on a provincial highway from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise must have a sufficient number of the following emergency warning devices:
- Flares, lamps or lanterns capable of continually producing two warning lights, each visible from a distance of at least 150 metres (500 ft.) for at least eight hours or
- Portable reflectors
Whenever any commercial motor vehicle or trailer is disabled, stalled, broken down or in a collision, the driver should quickly and calmly take the necessary actions to safeguard the vehicle and other motorists.
If the vehicle can be moved, move it as far off the roadway as safely possible — this should not affect the police officer’s investigation. This is especially important on busy or high-speed roads where it may be dangerous to leave vehicles in the driving lanes.
- Turn on your vehicle’s emergency flashers/hazard warning signals.
- During times when visibility is limited, your vehicle’s low-beam headlights must be turned on.
- In a speed limit zone greater than 60 km/h, if you cannot move your commercial vehicle off the roadway, you are required to set out one type of emergency warning device approximately 30 metres (100 ft.) to both the front and rear of your vehicle during times when visibility is limited.
- It is recommended to use emergency warning devices for all emergencies, whether they occur during the day or night, or on-road or off the road, to ensure everyone’s safety.
Note: Times of limited visibility are from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise, and any other time of poor light conditions, such as fog, snow or rain, which prevents clear visibility of people or vehicles less than 150 metres away. Do not park or leave your vehicle on a roadway unless it is not practical to move it off the roadway, or unless there is a clear view on the roadway for at least 125 metres (400 ft.) in both directions. Whenever the view of your vehicle is blocked by a hill, curve or other obstruction within 150 metres (500 ft.), an additional warning signal should be placed to give ample warning to other highway users.
Commercial vehicle drivers should know how to prevent fires and have a basic knowledge of fire-fighting techniques. It’s also essential to know what types of extinguisher or retardants to use on different types of fires.
Class A: fires include burning wood, paper, textiles, tires, etc.
Class B: fires include grease, oil, gasoline, solvents, paints, etc.
Class C: fires are those occurring in live electrical equipment
Class D: fires include burning metals such as magnesium, sodium, potassium etc. Only special compounds suitable to the combustible metal involved should be used to extinguish fires on these materials.
Use all extinguishers according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some of the common causes for truck fires are:
- Running with a soft tire
- Overheated brakes, either from misuse or maladjustment. Check hub temperatures every time tires are checked
- Leaking fuel system, pump, filter, tanks or lines
- Unequal distribution of load, causing trailer to lean and rub on tires
- Careless smoking habits. Lighted cigarettes and cigars should always be butted in ashtrays, never thrown out windows. Never smoke while loading or unloading
- Carelessly placed flares, lamps or fuses used in an emergency
- Short circuits in the electrical system
There are various other reasons for fires, such as leaking exhaust systems or those that have been installed too close to fuel lines or wooden body parts. Occasionally, spontaneous combustion may occur in a van or trailer. Drivers must always know the nature of their cargoes, so necessary fire-control precautions can be taken.
When a fire occurs:
- Stop the vehicle in a safe position away from buildings and other vehicles.
- If it is a combination unit, uncouple the unit if possible.
- If the fire occurs in or near a town, contact the fire department. Tell them what type of material
- Based on the type of fire concerned, take all possible steps to extinguish it.
- If the fire is thought to be due to a short-circuit, remove battery cables.
- If the cargo is of an explosive nature, stop traffic and warn spectators to stay back.
In a collision where someone is injured or a fuel leak occurs
St. John Ambulance recommends that all drivers carry a well-stocked first-aid kit and know how to use it. Consider reading a book about first aid or sign up for a first-aid course. It could mean the difference between life and death in a collision.
Every driver involved in a collision must stay at the scene or return to it immediately and give all possible assistance. If you are not personally involved in a collision, you should stop to offer help if police or other help has not arrived.
In a collision with injuries, possible fuel leaks or serious vehicle damage, stay calm and follow these steps:
- See the "Emergency warning devices and procedures” section. Use caution if placing flares where fuel or flammable substances have leaked.
- In response to these collisions, vehicles should not be moved, all engines should be turned off and approaching drivers should be warned.
- Call for help or have someone else call. By law, you must report any collision to the police when there are injuries or damage to vehicles or other property exceeding $2,000.
- Do not let anyone smoke, light a match or put flares near any vehicle in case of a fuel leak. If a vehicle is on fire, get the people out and make sure everyone is well out of the way. If there is no danger of fire or explosion, leave injured people where they are until trained medical help arrives.
- If you are trained in first aid, treat injuries in the order of urgency, within the level of your training. For example, clear the person’s airway to restore breathing, give rescue breathing or stop bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cloth.
- If you are not trained in first aid, use common sense. For example, people in collisions often go into shock. Cover the person with a jacket or blanket to reduce the effects of shock.
- Stay with injured people until help arrives.
- Disabled vehicles on the road may be a danger to you and other drivers. Do what you can to make sure everyone involved in a collision is kept safe.
In a collision where no one is injured
Follow these steps in a collision where there are no injuries:
- See the "Emergency warning devices and procedures" section. Use caution if placing flares where fuel or flammable substances have leaked.
- Call police (provincial or local, depending on where the collision takes place). By law, you must report any collision to the police- where there are injuries or damage to vehicles or property exceeding $2,000.
- Give all possible help to police or anyone whose vehicle has been damaged. This includes giving police your name and address, the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle, the vehicle plate and permit number, and the liability insurance card.
- Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses.
- If damage is less than $2,000, you are still required by law to exchange information with anyone whose vehicle has been damaged. However, the collision does not have to be reported to the police.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible if you intend to make a claim.