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Operation Air Brake out in full force

CASTLEGAR, B.C. - The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) held a surprise National Air Brake Inspection Day May 1 across North America.As part of Operation Air Brake, the CVSA launched its rando...


SAFETY FIRST: CVSA inspectors stop drivers at the scales in Castlegar, B.C., during the surprise inspections May 1. Photo by James Menzies
SAFETY FIRST: CVSA inspectors stop drivers at the scales in Castlegar, B.C., during the surprise inspections May 1. Photo by James Menzies

CASTLEGAR, B.C. – The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) held a surprise National Air Brake Inspection Day May 1 across North America.

As part of Operation Air Brake, the CVSA launched its random unannounced inspections at scales across the continent (just one of the program’s initiatives).

The goal of the program is to create an awareness in the industry about the importance of air brake systems.

“We are trying to understand the drivers’ level of knowledge and attempting to establish what they would like to see, so we can develop educational materials and training programs that will ultimately help them out,” said Stephen Keppler, director of policy and programs for CVSA in Washington D.C., and inspection co-ordinator for North America.

Air brake systems are a complicated piece of equipment and constitute the most problematic area in terms of out of service violations that are discovered, said Keppler.

The most prevalent problem discovered at scales in Castlegar B.C. was out-of-adjustment brake systems, says Mo Barry, commercial transport inspector for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division.

“We are inspecting low air warnings and brake adjustments,” Barry said, the day of the inspection. “Traditionally our out-of-service rates are about 21 per cent, but so far, of the trucks I’ve seen, the rate has been a little higher than the fall blitz.”

The CVSA is trying to measure how many of the total number of units inspected, are taken out-of-service for brake adjustments and also for brake defects.

“It is that percentage that we have been measuring each year,” said John Meed, program manager for the Transport Compliance Branch of the Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation department.

“We have seen a steady decline in the number of vehicles taken out of service year after year, so there have been significant improvements since the beginning of the program.”

Operation Air Brake began in 1998, however, the first year it was only Canadian jurisdictions that took part.

“Historically we have collected the data and evaluated it ourselves, but we wanted to wait until we had five years worth of results to draw a comprehensive comparison,” said Keppler. “So our plan is to ask the Canadian and the U.S. federal governments for some assistance to get a research consultant to take a closer look at these results so we can see where we are headed.”

The CVSA also posts air brake information signs at many of the inspection stations across the country, it also distributes promotional material, holds driver sessions at truck stops and holds an announced inspection each fall, all in an attempt to get drivers thinking about their braking systems.

“There is more to the program than just the two check days,” said Meed.

“It is a step cycle campaign where we focus on the importance of the air brake systems and keeping the brakes adjusted and properly maintained – it is to educate the drivers.”

This year’s Operation Air Brake fall blitz is set for Sept. 4.

“We have some interesting things in store for this year’s publicized event in September,” said Keppler. “We are still working on it but we plan to work with vendors and the jurisdictions to use some innovative technology in conjunction with these inspections.”

For more information on Operation Air Brake or on any other CVSA service, visit www.cvsa.org


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