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Check one, check 22

TORONTO, Ont. - Canadian truckers could soon be following clarified pre-trip inspection guidelines that distinguish whether or not they can continue to drive down the highway.The Ontario Trucking Asso...

TORONTO, Ont. – Canadian truckers could soon be following clarified pre-trip inspection guidelines that distinguish whether or not they can continue to drive down the highway.

The Ontario Trucking Association has unveiled plans for a pilot project, to be launched this November, in which 300 to 500 of the province’s drivers will be using new 22-item checklists to inspect their equipment. The main purpose of the program is to clarify what components have to be checked, and a planned manual will show how they should be checked in the first place.

“Every one of these groups (drivers, fleets and enforcement officers) has a different view of what’s safe and unsafe,” says Rolf Vanderzwaag, the Ontario Trucking Association’s maintenance and technical advisor.

“As it is now, we never tell them with certainty what they’re looking for, and what they should do if they find something. It’s like telling a driver going down the road not to speed, and not telling him the speed limit.”

The program has been developed over the past two years and has already been presented to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, which includes government bureaucrats who set and administer such rules across Canada. Ontario officials in the group says they would be interested in conducting the pilot project.

Probably one of the most significant steps is a list of which problems are major (prescribed defects) and which ones are not (defects). For example, if there’s an audible air leak or an ABS warning light has activated, you can continue to operate a truck under the proposed rules. But if the brake stroke exceeds the adjustment limit or the emergency system isn’t working, it would have to be parked.

Vanderzwaag bluntly admitted to a crowd in a seminar at the Truck World 2000 trade show that he had driven vehicles with minor defects because they occur out on the highway and not in a parking lot.

“Current requirements say if you have any defect, you aren’t allowed to drive,” he says, referring to how there isn’t any differentiation between the severity of defects. n

The proposal

Under the schedule for trucks, tractors and trailers, drivers would be working from the following 22-item checklist:

1. AIR BRAKE SYSTEM – The air brake system’s components must function as they should, while brakes have to be adjusted to meet prescribed standards.

Defects that would require repairs within 24 hours include an audible air leak, abnormal air brake or system operation, brake pushrod stroke at or near the adjustment limit, or an activated ABS warning light. Prescribed defects that would park a rig include brake pushrod stroke exceeding the adjustment limit, an air leak where the vehicle does not pass an air loss-rate test, a problem with the emergency system, lack of a low -air warning system, or an activated low-air warning system.

2. CAB – The vehicle doors must freely open and latch closed. Problems here would have to be fixed within 24 hours.

3. COUPLING DEVICES – Coupling devices and their safety mechanisms have to work as they should. Excessive play in the coupler would have to be fixed in 24 hours, while prescribed defects would include a malfunctioning coupling or locking mechanism; defective, incorrect or missing safety chain; or abnormal vehicle behavior that a driver could notice behind the wheel.

4. DOCUMENTS – Missing, improperly placed or invalid documents, permits or devices would have to be replaced within 24 hours.

5. DRIVER CONTROLS – An accelerator pedal that isn’t working properly would have to be repaired within 24 hours.

6. DRIVER SEAT – The seat and seatbelts must be secure and functional. An insecure or malfunctioning seatbelt, or a seat with damaged controls, would need to be addressed within 24 hours. A seat that won’t stay in a set position or a missing seatbelt would require a vehicle to be parked.

7. EMERGECY EQUIPMENT/ SAFETY DEVICES – Drivers must account for all required safety, emergency and load-handling equipment. If something is missing or malfunctioning, the driver would be given 24 hours for a replacement or repair, but prescribed dangerous goods items have to be on board before the wheels roll.

8. EXHAUST SYSTEM – Exhaust leaks will be given 24 hours for a repair unless exhaust gases are entering the cab or sleeper.

9. FRAME AND CARGO BODY – Drivers will be looking for an “abnormal condition” and will have to park their trucks if frame members have shifted, are collapsing or sagging.

10. FUEL SYSTEM – A truck with a loose or missing fuel tank cap would have to be addressed within 24 hours, while a dripping fuel leak would have to be dealt with right away.

11. GENERAL – Drivers will be looking for minor defects that can be seen when they’re behind the wheel, or standing, crouching, squatting or kneeling be side the truck. Serious damage or deterioration that may affect the vehicle’s safe operation would require the truck to be parked.

12. GLASS AND MIRRORS – Cracked, broken, damaged, missing or maladjusted mirrors and glass, or any damaged attachments to the vehicle’s body, would have to be fixed within 24 hours.

13. HEATER/DEFROSTER – Failing controls or systems would have to be addressed within 24 hours.

14. HORN – A failing horn would have to be fixed by the next inspection.

15. HYDRAULIC BRAKE SYSTEM – An activated ABS warning, low fluid levels or abnormal braking response would have to be rectified within 24 hours. But a hydraulic-fluid leak, brake-pedal fade or insufficient brake-pedal reserve, fluid that’s less than 1/4 full, or an activated warning device, would have to be addressed right away.

17. STEERING – If steering wheel freeplay is greater than normal or the vehicle response seems abnormal, the situation has to be addressed within 24 hours. A steering wheel that is insecure or does not respond normally, or freeplay that meets or exceeds prescribed limits, would have to be repaired right away.

18. SUSPENSION SYSTEM -A leak in the air suspension, or a cracked or broken leaf spring, would have to be addressed within 24 hours. But if the vehicle is behaving abnormally, the air springs have deflated, or the main spring leaf or more than one secondary spring leaf is broken, it’s time to park the rig.

19. TIRES -Problems that must be addressed within 24 hours include low tire inflation, tire treads that are worn near the wear limits, a visibly damaged tread or sidewall, or an improperly mounted tire. Prescribed defects to be fixed immediately include flat tires; tires worn to the point that tread-wear indicators contact the road at three equally spaced intervals around the circumference; less than 3 mm of tread on the steer tire, and less than 1.5 mm of tread on the others.

20. VEHICLE LADING – Insecure or improper load covers or a missing tarp would have to be addressed within 24 hours, but a missing or failed load security device would require the vehicle to be parked.

21. WHEELS AND FASTENERS – A damaged hub, wheel or wheel component, or evidence of inadequate or leaking wheel-bearing lubricant, would have to be addressed within 24 hours. Requiring immediate attention would be loose, missing or ineffective wheel fasteners; a damaged, cracked or broken wheel, rim or attaching parts; or evidence of an impending wheel, hub or bearing failure.

22. WINDSHIELD WIPER/ WASHER- You have 24 hours to fix a malfunctioning control, system or damaged wiper blade. But if the wiper or washer doesn’t adequately clear your field of vision for prevailing weather conditions, you have to address it right away. n

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