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A steady diet of safety

MONTREAL, Que. - Quebec truckers are now getting a little more to digest with their lunch: a liberal side-serving of safety.A total of two million paper place mats and 1,000 posters addressing four sa...


PHASE 1: The pre-trip will be the subject of the first wave of education.
PHASE 1: The pre-trip will be the subject of the first wave of education.

MONTREAL, Que. – Quebec truckers are now getting a little more to digest with their lunch: a liberal side-serving of safety.

A total of two million paper place mats and 1,000 posters addressing four safety themes will be distributed to 95 truck stop restaurants and business cafeterias.

The first theme, which hit eateries in March, is on doing pre-trip circle checks, which became mandatory when Bill 430 became law in June 1998. The posters show images of a dozen truck and trailer systems that require inspection.

Even for those who can’t read French, the images leave no doubt as to what you are responsible for inspecting before hitting the road.

The paper place mats are structured in a comic strip format.

The story line boils down to one guy reminding another fellow not to assume that his truck systems are in good shape. So the hero checks his truck before pulling out of the truck stop and, naturally, is shocked to find a major defect.

This literature may not rate with Spiderman for thrills and spills, but there is proof that carrying out pre-trip inspections can prevent accidents and thus save just as many lives as old Peter Parker ever did.

A 1997 study carried out by the department of mechanical engineering road safety team at the Ecole Polytechnique of Montreal discovered that 13.2 per cent of truck accidents are at least partially due to mechanical defects. Moreover, a healthy three-quarters of the accidents the team investigated were caused by defects that would have been noticed during the circle check.

Brake systems were, once again, found the most likely to be defective. In a province known for its roadside blitzes, truckers can count on highway inspectors catching vehicles with mechanical defects.

For example, in two major roadside inspections Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) carried out this year, 234 heavy vehicles were subjected to mechanical inspections. Fifty-nine were sidelined with major infractions. The three systems having the most defects were the brakes, axles and suspension.

The second safety theme, which will be introduced in May, is about respecting speed limits and the signage at highway work sites.

Transports Quebec will also be introducing a new road sign that will warn truckers of highway construction ahead.

Careless driving and speeding account for up to 41 per cent of heavy-duty vehicle accidents and SAAQ attributes 200 deaths and 6,000 injuries a year to speeding.

In August the third theme will be rolled out covering load securement, the danger of rolling over and of losing loads. Last year Transports Quebec introduced – on an experimental basis – new signs on some dangerous curves to warn of the risks of overturning. In seven northern areas of Quebec, SAAQ officers found that 60 of the 117 logging trucks they stopped were overweight.

The fourth theme will hit the street in October and will accent the risks associated with fatigue and remind truckers about hours of driving regulations. If SAAQ operates true to form, truckers can expect roadside inspection blitzes looking for Hours-of-Service violations later this year.

This sensitization campaign is being coordinated by the Association Sectorielle Transport Entreposage (ASTE), an organization involved in supplying training and information, research, advising and offering technical assistance to companies involved in the transportation industry.

The campaign is being carried out in cooperation with the Commission des transports du Quebec, the Transport Ministry and SAAQ. n


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