WATCHDOG: Sgt. Cam Woolley of the OPP was on the 407 along with officers from his and other detachments during the recent blitz. Police want truckers to know that taking the ETR 407 isn't a free pass.Photo by James Menzies
TORONTO, Ont. – The Ministry of Transportation and several police detachments combined to conduct a major truck blitz on ETR 407 Nov. 23.
Of the 50 trucks pulled into the MTO yard on Derry Rd. near Milton, nearly all were guilty of violations and 28 were placed out-of-service, said Sgt. Cam Woolley of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Traffic Support Unit. The blitz – dubbed Beaters and Cheaters – was conducted by the MTO, Halton Regional Police, the OPP Truck Troopers and the OPP’s new 407 Detachment.
While the majority of the trucks inspected were charged with violations ranging from improper load securement to faulty brakes, Woolley emphasized the blitz was directed at shoddy operators.
“We don’t want to send the message that we think half the trucks out here are unsafe,” Woolley stressed. “All we’re saying is that more than half the trucks out here that we thought were unsafe, were unsafe.”
Officers who took part in the blitz focused their attention on trucks that looked to be in disrepair or those hauling for carriers with poor safety records.
“The selection criteria is based on if we see defects or vehicles that appear to be neglected or if they belong to companies with bad records. This is another reason to maintain a good record because we don’t do many random inspections anymore – it’s one of the few ways we can reward good companies, by not stopping them,” said Woolley. “Most truckers support this because we’re targeting the people who generally undercut them and the fly-by-night operators that ruin it for everybody else.”
Const. Cory Kostyra of the OPP GTR Truck Unit was one of the officers participating in the blitz. He said he was appalled by the condition of some of the equipment they pulled off the highway.
“I was disgusted with some of the equipment I saw today and the condition of the equipment driving down the road and it makes me nervous, knowing what I know, that I have to share the same highways with these trucks,” Kostyra said. “These people tend to be very lazy and very selfish and don’t think about the community at all. They don’t spend the money to keep their trucks up at all – they wait until they break and then they fix them.”
Most of the trucks placed out-of-service belonged to companies whose primary business is something other than trucking, Woolley pointed out. He gestured towards a medium-duty truck belonging to a cupboard company as an example. The truck had leaking hydraulic brakes, a nearly empty brake fluid reservoir, an expired annual inspection and a leaky fuel tank. The driver, meanwhile, had no licence and was also accused of evading the tolls.
“One real trend we’ve seen is that a large portion of the trucking industry is taking genuine steps to make it a true profession, then there are these other people that keep embarrassing the industry and risking public safety at the same time and that’s really who we’re targeting,” said Woolley. “Hopefully most of the truckers realize it’s not pick on trucker day, it’s pick on bad trucks day.”
Truckers who think taking the ETR 407 is an easy way to avoid enforcement should realize that’s not the case, added Woolley. The OPP recently established a detachment dedicated solely to enforcement along the toll highway. (ETR 407 operators reimburse the province for the cost of the newly established detachment.)
“Before that, it was done when we had time between four different detachments,” explained Woolley. “If there was a big crash on the 401, there’d be nobody up here. Now it’s a standalone detachment as of this fall.”
Although the inspection officers tried not to inconvenience drivers hauling for reputable carriers, Woolley said getting pulled over can be a good thing if you’re in compliance.
“Getting stopped and getting a clean inspection is good for your record,” he pointed out. “But you don’t want a whole bunch of those either because they do take time.”