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Q: Do you think that existing regulations concerning brakes need to change?

REGINA, Sask. - Motorists who drive cars don't have to worry about having their brakes checked by the authorities, yet truck drivers are expected to ensure they meet a certain standard. It's a fact of...





REGINA, Sask. – Motorists who drive cars don’t have to worry about having their brakes checked by the authorities, yet truck drivers are expected to ensure they meet a certain standard. It’s a fact of life. But Truck News visited with drivers at the Husky House Restaurant on Hwy. 1 East to see what they would change if they had the power.

“As far as the inspections go, I think they’re OK. The fines are a bit silly, though,” says Jim Kincaid, a driver for Saskatoon-based Bridge Carriers. Kincaid, who drives a 2000 Kenworth W900, says it would be nice to have certified mechanics checking the brakes, but most drivers should be responsible enough to check their own brakes because it is not a difficult process.

Since drivers have to check their own equipment, Kincaid recommends that driving schools should do a better job at training for this task.

A driving veteran of 34 years, Wayne Davies says that he doesn’t agree with all the laws regarding brakes. “If you have one (brake) out of adjustment, then they can pull you out (of service). That’s too strict. It’s the same thing with lights. You can get a fine as soon as one goes out. You can’t keep on top of these things every minute,” he says.

As soon as he feels his brakes getting “spongy”, he pulls over and makes the necessary adjustments. But he wishes manufacturers could decide on standard fittings, to eliminate the need for different tools.

John and Albert Bardarson, who drive a 1996 Freightliner for Winnipeg-based TCL, say that the regulations are fine and that it’s simply a matter of common sense to follow them. Albert says that brakes are not hard to adjust, and after you’ve been doing it for awhile, it gets easier. “It really only takes about five minutes to do,” he says.

John says that every trucker should have a mechanic that ensures brakes are up to spec’. “In fact, it should be a safety thing for your company. The company should have someone to check them,” he says.

But both agree that there are bigger concerns in the industry than brake regulations. The growing number of inexperienced drivers and the deteriorating conditions of the highways should garner more government attention, they say.

Walter Fehr, who drives a 1996 International Eagle for Southway in Winnipeg, says that if anything, enforcement surrounding brakes should be stricter.

“Most enforcement personnel don’t even want to go under the truck,” he says. “I wonder how many of them go under a cattle hauler.”

A driver for about 30 years, Fehr says that since the truck is your livelihood – and your life – drivers should ultimately be responsible for ensuring brakes are properly adjusted and in good working order. Most drivers are mechanically inclined and shouldn’t have much trouble ensuring they meet the regulations, he says. However, he admits that some have not received enough training to make the proper adjustments. n


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