VAUGHAN, Ont. – It was a roller coaster of emotions for truck drivers pulling in to Canada’s Wonderland on April 27-28 during Ontario’s largest commercial motor vehicle safety blitz of the season.
The large-scale unannounced safety blitz is an annual event that takes place over a two-day period. The York Regional Police and the Ministry of Transportation put the safety blitz together with officers from a number of partner agencies including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Environment, the Ontario Provincial Police and Vaughan By-Law.
MTO says they anticipate to inspect between 375-450 commercial vehicles during the two-day event.
Most of the inspections that are to be conducted during the blitz, according to Jeff Hudebine, director of regional operations for the Ministry of Transportation, are full level 1 inspections.
“Really, what this initiative is what we call a general commercial motor vehicle, truck and driver safety initiative and it’s focused on all aspects of safety compliance under the Highway Traffic Act and other pieces of legislation,” he said. “So what the officers are focused on today is driver qualifications, like are they licensed properly to be transporting dangerous goods? Are they properly trained? With the vehicle, we’re looking at mechanical fitness, load security, dangerous good compliance…things like that. We don’t want to hold people here too long who don’t need a full mechanical inspection. So a lot of that screening is happening when they’re being pulled over. So mostly we’re conducting level 1 inspections and some level 2 inspections.”
Officers were pulling vehicles off from Hwy. 400 and Rutherford Rd. in Vaughan, Ont. for the inspection. More than 45 officers from a number of agencies were present for each day of the event.
During the first day of the blitz that took place yesterday, Hudebine shared with Truck News that officers conducted 180 inspections where 46% of the vehicles inspected were declared out of service. Last year during the same large-scale inspection, the MTO and its partners inspected 470 vehicles with an OOS rate of 34%
Though this percentage may seem high, Hudebine said that this doesn’t necessarily mean that nearly half of the trucks on Ontario’s roads are operating illegally or unsafely.
“This initiative is not your typical random inspection,” he said. “These initiatives are focused on trucks that we suspect may not be in compliance with the Highway Traffic Act. Those are the trucks we target. So that’s why we’re seeing a higher out of service rate than what we would normally see. That percentage is not reflective of how the typical carrier operates.”
Out of the 46% of those trucks placed out of service yesterday, Hudebine said most were because of brake-related defects and bald tires.
One truck yesterday was placed out of service because it had loose wheel fasteners, something that enforcement officers are taking a special interest in as of late because of the recent wheel-off incidents.
“We still have some heightened focus on wheel-related defects,” Hudebine said. “All mechanical inspections focus on wheels, but that said, we did have a focus initiative recently between the months of December and March where we took a zero-tolerance approach to wheel-related defects. Any wheel-related defects we forced them to repair and placed them out of service. We are continuing this. So any wheel-related defects we find today, we have them repaired immediately.”
Tire safety is the special focus on this year’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck set for June 7-9 – when approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections.
So far, Hudebine said he was pleased with the safety blitz and said drivers and carriers have been professional and courteous to officers even though the inspection causes them some delay.
“On the most part it’s a very small percentage of drivers that show a level of frustration when it comes to participating in these initiatives,” he said.