Roadcheck Results in – but Shouldn’t Overshadow Ongoing Tests: OTA

by Ron Stang

WINDSOR, Ont. – The 16th annual Roadcheck – carried out June 3, 4 and 5 across North America by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. CVSA saw almost 56,000 standard inspections, and almost 44,000 Level 1or the most comprehensive type of inspections, carried out.

In Canada a total of 9,782 vehicles and drivers underwent full inspections.

Of these, 1,968 trucks and 301 drivers were pulled out of service for a variety of safety faults and violations, from poor wheels, to insecure loads, to malfunctioning signal lights.

When it came to drivers, problems related to inadequate documentation or poorly kept logbooks.

But Doug Switzer, with the Ontario Trucking Association, says that while results of inspections under the Roadcheck 2003 blitz are important, they are just a “snapshot” and shouldn’t be weighed more heavily than other measures used to determine truck safety.

Switzer is the OTA’s manager of governmental relations. He said that while he doesn’t want to “knock Roadcheck,” some in the industry have always been “a little bit leery” of placing too much emphasis on the Roadcheck figures because safety is really a “year long effort” of education and compliance “and not something you do once a year.” Switzer applauded the fact numbers continue to improve but said the stats should be viewed as “just one kind of reinforcement” to other factors, like decreases in accidents or fatalities.

“Those numbers have been coming down steadily as well,” Switzer said.

Peter Hurst, CVSA’s president and director of Ontario’s Carrier Safety and Enforcement Branch, said Roadcheck in fact demonstrates that year-round enforcement programs are working and helps “showcase the efforts of the enforcement agencies across North America,” such as provincial transport departments and police. Moreover, he said, it’s an opportunity to drive home the importance of safety to drivers and industry.

During last year’s Canadian Roadcheck, 9,024 trucks were inspected, 1,774 taken out of service and 235 drivers were withdrawn from service – 20 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively. The 20 per cent for trucks was the same this year but the driver out of service rate increased to 3.1 per cent.

From province to province there were generally minor discrepancies in numbers from last year to this, such as trucks inspected (Ontario did 4,113 this year compared to 2,860 last year, and the territories also had wildly different numbers).

But Steve Callahan, president of CVSA’s Region 5 representing Canada and executive director of the Alberta Transportation Inspection Service, said this could be attributed to varying enforcement resources, and that the territorial truck inspection program had been “reopened” and is in flux. Two Alberta inspectors are training staff there right now, he said.

The OTA’s Switzer said the increase in driver out of service stats may be attributable to an increased focus on security in the post-Sept. 11 world.

Otherwise, he said, year-to-year variations in numbers are likely statistical anomalies.

“To really be meaningful you’d have to see a couple of years pattern where that was continually to increase,” Switzer said.

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