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The tradition continues

LAKESHORE, Ont. - Ah the sounds of RoadCheck..."I'll take the third one down the line unless it has a sticker - oh lucky me, five axles.""Okay, now rock it forward so I can check your fifth wheel.""Yo...


CREEP SHOW: Truck enforcement officer Tony Leitao searches for defects at the Essex South station during RoadCheck 2001. This particular truck passed the inspection with flying colors.
CREEP SHOW: Truck enforcement officer Tony Leitao searches for defects at the Essex South station during RoadCheck 2001. This particular truck passed the inspection with flying colors.

LAKESHORE, Ont. – Ah the sounds of RoadCheck…

“I’ll take the third one down the line unless it has a sticker – oh lucky me, five axles.”

“Okay, now rock it forward so I can check your fifth wheel.”

“You logged off-duty at 8 a.m. and did your inspection at 8 a.m. How’d you do that sir?”

“Come and get me, I’m at a scale outside Windsor and the plates expired in May.”

Some familiar words were spoken this year during the annual North America-wide inspection blitz. There was, however, one phase noticeably absent from the first day of the crackdown at the Essex South Truck Inspection Station, which is located at the western extreme of the 401.

No one visiting the 24-hour “truck jail” just east of the Ambassador Bridge was told their rig was Out-of-Service because of brake defects.

“So far here, we haven’t pulled anyone’s plates, there have been no brake charges, we’ve only had two trucks taken Out-of-Service, only three charges in total have been laid and we haven’t had any impounds,” says Carey Chase, acting shift supervisor. “The industry is really shaping up well and they know we’re out here, it’s a publicized blitz.”

He admits there are bypass routes allowing those shoddy operators in the know to skirt enforcement; especially considering his team, 25 Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) certified inspectors, is set up at an impound facility.

“If you’re running a piece of junk, you’re not coming through here,” adds Chase.

Those unenforced routes have always been available, mind you, and truckers have always been free to take them. So how much has RoadCheck changed then at this particular yard?

“Five or six years ago, it used to be that we’d fill the lot two or three times over in a single shift – tow trucks would be lining up,” remembers the 11-year inspection veteran. “Truckers are learning fines are not just a cost of doing business anymore. Who can afford to lose a truck for 15 days?”

The message was very much the same after the first day at the Balzac Vehicle Inspection Station just north of Calgary, although not quite as encouraging.

“We’ve had a number of units that have been placed Out-of-Service for mechanical defects. Nothing out of the ordinary so far,” says Arlen Masson, district supervisor. “Every year I’ve seen an improvement in the percentage for Out-of-Service. I think industry on the whole is improving the quality of its maintenance and driver training programs. It’s the driver training program that deals with pre-trip and post-trip inspections that really makes a difference with the number of Out-of-Service vehicles.”

This is the 10th year he’s done inspections in Alberta and all things considered he’s happy doing his job – even during the annual blitz.

“The industry is pretty good to work with, they expect it every year,” he says. “We’ve been pretty consistent with having it the first week of June for a number of years so they know when it’s coming and a good percentage of the carriers welcome the opportunity to have their units checked.”

He explains the majority of fleets nowadays really have nothing to fear from the once-mighty RoadCheck.

“If you’re running a good ship, looking after your maintenance and looking after your drivers’ schedules and hours of service, then you have nothing to worry about here,” says Masson. “It’s a random check. If we have three pairs of officers doing inspections and units are coming through the scales, they’re allowed to continue on.”

No matter where you are in the continent, the procedure is largely the same. In Canada’s keystone province, Manitoba Transport compliance officer Brent Millar was one of 12 CVSA inspectors crawling around rigs at the Headingliny inspection station during the annual random spotcheck. The facility, which handles two-way traffic just west of Winnipeg on the Trans-Canada Highway, also got a little support from the local authorities.

“The big thing is the brakes, that’s always at the top of the list,” Millar says. n


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