Ontario launches its fourth joint enforcement campaign

by John G. Smith

NORTH BAY, Ont. – Police and Transportation Ministry officers in Northern Ontario have launched their fourth-annual joint inspection campaign, meaning a focused inspection blitz in the region over the next four months.

The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Initiative, launched in January, is unique to northern areas of the province, says Jeff Griffith, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s regional road safety planner based in North Bay. “The program extends from Burk’s Falls to Hearst, and then along Hwy. 69 from MacTier through to Sudbury, and along (Hwy. 17) to Blind River to the west and Mattawa to the east.”

While the program focuses on commercial vehicles, police officers also use the patrols to target aggressive motorists of every ilk, he adds.

“We both have the same goal,” adds Staff Sgt. Dave Crown, traffic and marine manager for the OPP’s Northeast Region, based in North Bay. “Back when the program first started, there were concerns at the time of aggressive driving and unsafe trucks on the road. At the time, there were problems with aggressive logging trucks in the Gogama area (north of Sudbury), up along Hwy. 144 and some cross highways there.”

A logging truck collided with a snowplow in a fatal accident in 1996, leading to a series of meetings with community and trucking representatives that gave birth to the program.

Typically, each of the program’s nine teams involves two officers – one from the MTO and the other from the OPP – who work together about one day a week. Representatives from all three districts gather in a single location once a month to blitz a specific area.

“We’re seeing an increase in operator compliance and a decrease in the number of defects being found,” adds Griffith.

In 1997, the program pulled over 961 commercial vehicles, laid 268 charges and placed 39 vehicles out of service. With the expansion from five to eight teams in 1998, there were 1,924 commercial vehicles stopped, 238 charges laid and 58 vehicles placed out of service. A particular focus on the Hwy. 69 corridor in 1999 led to 1,952 stops, 305 charges and 74 vehicles taken out of service.

“Brakes still continue to be the Number 1, or the most common, defect for placing a truck out of service,” he adds. But suspension, steering and tire problems also continue to make their presence known.

Still, the effort to enforce regulations on commercial trucks doesn’t end with the annual joint initiative.

“We do it all year,” he says, “but we don’t collect statistics from it.” n

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