MONTREAL, Que. – Loads of dangerous goods are in the spotlight this week as part of Hazardous Material Week, and this year the inspection blitz is expanding beyond Canada.
Transport Canada has recognized the week since 2013, but the event shifts to August rather than September as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) brings the focus to the U.S. and Mexico.
It’s a highly regulated segment of the trucking industry for good reason. In the event of an accident, the materials in the trailers can cause serious injury, death and property damage – and not only in the area of the collision itself.
Of course, the inspections are not limited to a single week.
“Road inspectors check this type of transportation throughout the year,” says Marie-Josée Michaud, public relations officer for Contrôle routier Québec.
“We have several operations throughout the year targeting different types of transportation. The transportation of hazardous materials is not among the most delinquent. However, this type of transportation must be well supervised, because an incident can often have greater consequences [compared to] a vehicle carrying general merchandise.”
Like the annual Roadcheck blitz, which looks at North America’s broader heavy vehicle fleet, this blitz is used to measure trends and help to standardize related enforcement.
Regulators identify about 3,500 hazardous materials, many of which are used in daily life — such as propane, helium, butane, compressed air, gasoline, diesel, car batteries, chlorine for the pool, fireworks, paint, some glues and solvents.
“The regulation targets all road users who transport hazardous material on the road network. Drivers of passenger vehicles, motor homes, and small businesses such as landscapers and electricians, more often ignore the regulations because their work is not specialized in the transportation of hazardous materials,” says Michaud.
Last year in Quebec alone, roadside inspectors reviewed 5,500 shipments involving hazardous materials, issuing offences for 921 of them — a violation rate of 16.7%.