Get ready to be blitzed

by Derek Clouthier

VICTORIA, B.C. — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will hold its 30th annual International Roadcheck this year from June 6-8 and will be focusing on cargo securement to remind drivers of its importance to highway safety.

Cole Delisle, acting deputy director of Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) for B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said officers in all jurisdictions will be conducting a full North American standard Level 1 inspection, which is the most comprehensive inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes both driver operating requirements, such as proper documentation and hours-of-service (HOS), as well as vehicle mechanical fitness.

“In addition to the cargo securement emphasis,” said Delisle, “inspectors will be checking such items as brakes and brake systems, coupling devices, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices, steering components, suspension, tires, wheels, rims and hubs, windshields and wipers.”

Delisle admitted that the inspection is not an exhaustive list, but rather a thorough visual inspection where CVSE officers have no tools other than a flashlight, chalk, a brake-chamber measuring device and a ruler.

He also said that this being the only random roadcheck of the year, any truck, regardless of year, make, model or condition, could be selected for an inspection.

“The best advice for avoiding infractions is to follow the regulatory requirements of completing a thorough trip inspection every day, and doing your due diligence with the defects that you find,” Delisle said, adding that if something affects the safe operation of the vehicle or driver, it must be addressed. “Our officers are not looking for perfection, they are looking for well maintained and safe vehicles and drivers who take care of issues effectively when they arise.”

Will Schaefer, director of safety programs for CVSA, said cargo securement violations are typically one of the Top 5 out-of-service categories after brakes, tires/wheel and lighting devices.

During International Roadcheck 2016, there was a reduced rate of cargo securement violations – 6.1% of out-of-service violations – but it remained in the Top 5.

“Shifting cargo can result in loss of control and items falling from trucks can have tragic consequences,” Schaefer said. “While checking for compliance with safe cargo securement regulations is always part of roadside inspections, CVSA is highlighting cargo securement safety this year as a reminder of its importance.”

Of the 37-step procedure inspectors will conduct during the roadcheck blitz, Schaefer said there are 15 critical vehicle item areas: brake systems; coupling devices; exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices; securement of cargo; steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; windshield wipers; and for buses and motorcoaches, emergency exits and/or electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments.

In addition to proper documentation and HOS, drivers will also be asked for their driver’s license and medical card information.

Schaefer said pre-trip inspections are key to avoiding getting dinged for a violation.

“Conducting a pre-trip inspection before hitting the road is critical in identifying items that need addressing before they become critical violations,” he said. “It’s not just about avoiding violations; we want to make sure that the commercial motor vehicles traveling on our roadways are safe.”

Schaefer added that when a driver does find an issue that needs addressing, it is important that carriers are supportive and encourage proactive approach to maintenance and safety.

Schaefer echoed Delisle when it came to the most common issues for out-of-service violations during the year, saying the Top 5 violations, in order, were brake system, brake adjustments, tires, lighting, and cargo securement.

Violations have been on a steady decline, however, dropping from over 30% in the early ‘90s to approximately 20% now.

“But with a 20% out-of-service rate, we all still have work to do to reduce violations and truck and bus crashes,” said Schaefer.

Scott McCloy of WorkSafeBC said the main purpose of WorkSafeBC’s involvement in the International Roadcheck blitz is to inspect logging trucks, mobile cranes and vehicle mounted lifts, crew transportation vehicles, and electrical and plumbing vans.

“For logging trucks we primarily look at load securement,” McCloy said, such as wrappers around the load of logs. They also look at the condition of bullboards, the barrier behind the cab that protects the driver.

For cranes and elevating work platforms, WorkSafeBC officers will be looking for evidence of recent inspections and any obvious damage. Drivers of crew vehicles must have the proper license, not be carrying too many passengers, and all must be properly buckled in.

“Our plans in the Fraser Valley are to have two of our officers at the westbound scales along Highway 1 in Hope and two officers at the eastbound scales,” said McCloy. “We also have officers working the checks up north, as well.”

Schaefer believes the International Roadcheck blitz is a good way to get drivers to ensure they are making every effort to operate their trucks safely.

“If knowledge of our impending inspection blitzes results in drivers and motor carriers checking their vehicles to ensure they are in good working order before the blitz, then we have been successful,” said Schaefer. “Likewise, if we find violations, and drivers and carriers are informed about what they need to fix, then we have been successful.”

Delisle feels the same.

“Anytime there is awareness to make sure everything is in order is a good thing,” he said, “and this event specifically, due to it being a consistently conducted check across the entire continent, is like no other in bringing awareness to safety in commercial transport.”

Delisle said the blitz provides a good “state of the industry” snapshot of general compliance, which helps guide where education and enforcement needs to go.

Nearly 17 trucks and buses are inspected every minute in Canada, the US and Mexico during the 72-hour International Roadcheck blitz, with more than 1.5 million inspected since it began 30 years ago.

The campaign is a partnership between the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.

“We know that no one starts their workday thinking to themselves, ‘I think I’m going to cause crash today’, but tragically, it happens,” said Delisle. “If your instincts tell you that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.”

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  • I don’t mind having my truck inspected. I have nothing to hide. But some of these MTO officers need to be policed in their actions.

    I just had a friend that was stopped for a road side. The officer could find nothing wrong with his truck or his paperwork. So he pulled out his air pressure gauge and found ONE tire at 80 PSI and put him out of service. That’s complete bull!