TORONTO, Ont. - Enforcement officers from Ontario and neighbouring jurisdictions gathered at the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) annual convention to discuss common problems they are encountering i...
TORONTO, Ont. –Enforcement officers from Ontario and neighbouring jurisdictions gathered at the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) annual convention to discuss common problems they are encountering in the field.
In Quebec, the most common violations center around axle weights, said Arnold Allen Yetman, carrier enforcement officer, SAAQ. He said most infractions occur during the spring thaw, when load limits are decreased.
“All highways and loads are included,”Yetman pointed out. He advised carriers to stay up to date on spring weight restrictions by visiting the government’s Web site.
Here at home, the most common problems are the interactions between cars and trucks, said Sgt. Cam Woolley of the OPP. He said truck accidents are on the rise in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and he blames a lack of good drivers.
“We’re seeing a lot of inexperienced drivers getting into these crashes,”Woolley said, suggesting the root cause of many recent accidents has been a lack of training. “When hiring, I applaud carriers that have their own training systems.”
Woolley said the two most common mistakes committed by truck drivers are speeding and following too closely. He showed a home video from YouTube to prove his point. It can be viewed by plugging “OPP Zero Tolerance” into YouTube. It shows drivers in Northern Ontario speeding and passing dangerously.
Woolley also addressed Ontario’s tough new speeding rules that allow police to impound vehicles of drivers going more than 50 km/h over the speed limit.
“We have not impounded any big rigs for going 50 over,” he said. However, he said there is the potential for impoundment, particularly if a truck goes barreling through a small town where the limit is 50 km/h.
“The true professionals don’t need to worry; it’s aimed at the four-wheelers,” Woolley said.
Down in Michigan, Capt. Robert Powers of the Michigan State Police said “all in all, Canadian trucks and Canadian drivers are doing a great job, particularly compared to Michigan trucks and Michigan drivers.”
Powers said the out-of-service rate for Canadian rigs is on the decline and so are crash numbers.
Powers also apologized for ramped up enforcement efforts which appear to be targeting Canadian trucks. Powers explained Michigan enforcement agencies experienced a budget shortfall and were faced with the prospect of getting rid of 42 inspectors. The funding was finally secured, under the condition the money was directed towards monitoring cross-border traffic. Unfortunately for Canadian drivers, it’s much easier to identify cross-border trucks if they have Canadian plates, Powers explained.
“As a result, there’s more emphasis than ever before on Canadian trucks,” he admitted. “Our goal is not to impede commerce.”
Powers said enforcement officers in Michigan are doing their best to enforce the rules without negatively impacting Canadian carriers.
When Michigan truck cops do encounter problems with Canadian drivers, it’s usually for speeding or exceeding allowable hours, Powers said. He said hours-of-service violations are the most common problems among Canadians with speeding placing a close second.
“We’re not seeing equipment problems, the driver factor is causing the problem.”
Powers took some heat from delegates over the state’s policy on confiscating driver’s licences as an assurance to appear in court. Out-of-state drivers must pay any citation on the spot or surrender their licence until they mail in the payment or appear in court.
Powers said Michigan is not the only state to do this. He suggested truckers try to pay fines on the spot.
“We much prefer taking the cash,” he added.
Woolley said Ontario drivers must present their citation in lieu of their driver’s licence if they are subsequently pulled over in Ontario.
Speaking on behalf of the Ontario MTO, Kerri Wirachowsky reported that drivers are coming to terms with the relatively new hours-of-service and pre-trip inspection rules.
However, she did point out drivers need to do a better job at recording defects identified during the pre-trip.
She explained that drivers cannot be charged for minor defects if they have been noted on the pre-trip inspection form.
She also expressed concern about the tendency for drivers to overlook major defects.
“They don’t know what they’re looking for,”she pointed out. “Make sure your drivers know what to look for and know how to fill out the documentation.” •
“We’re seeing a lot of inexperienced drivers getting into these crashes,”