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MTO gearing up for Roadcheck 2010 (April 19, 2010)

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- The North America-wide inspection blitz Roadcheck 2010 is just around the corner and...

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The North America-wide inspection blitz Roadcheck 2010 is just around the corner and drivers can expect to see plenty of action at Ontario inspection stations.

That was the message from Alf Brown, head carrier enforcement liasion with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, when he addressed the most recent Driving for Profit seminar here Apr. 6. Brown noted with pride that Ontario has the largest and hardest-working contingent of Canadian enforcement officers taking part in the annual blitz.

“Ontario has the most inspectors of any jurisidication in Canada and does the most inspections of any jursidiction in Canada,” Brown said. “I also think they work the hardest in Canada as well – at least during those three days.”

Roadcheck, orchestrated by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), is the largest targeted enforcement program in the world, Brown said. This year’s event will be held in all states and provinces between June 8-10. It differs from everyday enforcement activities in that the 72-hour blitz is intended to be completely random in order to give an accurate indication of how well the trucking industry as a whole is complying with rules and regulations.

“This is what we do every day, but during this 72 hours we inspect vehicles at random,” Brown said. “The other 362 days of the year, we target.” Under normal circumstances, trucks that appear to be in disrepair or those belonging to carriers with shoddy safety records are singled out for inspection.

In most cases, MTO officers will be conducting comprehensive Level 1 inspections, which include a complete vehicle and driver inspection. Drivers are expected to help out, Brown said, noting the 45 minutes or so the inspection takes will count as on-duty time for the driver.

“We need the driver to help us in the inspection procedure,” Brown said. “The Highway Traffic Act says they have to help us.”

Drivers will be required to follow instructions such as applying the brakes and activating the signal lights when asked to do so. One of three outcomes will follow an inspection: the vehicle will pass and be given a CVSA inspection decal; defects will be discovered, in which case the driver must notify the fleet manager and decide whether or not to continue on before fixing the problems; or the vehicle will be placed out-of-service.

Brown admitted inspection officers occassionally run out of inspection decals due to the high number of inspections conducted over the three-day period. In that case, drivers should carry their inspection report with them, which will be an acceptable alternative for enforcement officers. Brown said drivers shouldn’t be too concerned if the MTO runs out of inspection decals, since all the information is now available in real-time via the MTO computer system. When you pull into a weigh scale, the officers there will already know when you were last inspected and the results of that inspection, he explained.

In the event a truck is placed out-of-service, the owner will have to fix the problems on-site and then submit the vehicle for another inspection or have it towed off-site for repairs. Critical defects which present an imminent safety hazard could result in the truck being impounded – or going to “truck jail” as Brown called it.

Fortunately, the out-of-service rate has improved in recent years during Roadcheck inspection blitzes. Since the mid-90s, Ontario’s Roadcheck compliance rate has improved 47%. In 2009, the compliance rate in Ontario was 83.3% – up from 81.5% in 2008.

“The industry has really stepped up the plate,” Brown said, noting he used to see out-of-service rates as high as 30% years ago. Still, there’s room for improvement, he noted, with 16.7% of trucks inspected in Ontario being placed out-of-service and presenting an “imminent danger.”

“That (16.7% OOS rate) doesn’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling,” Brown said. “We still have some room to improve.”

So what are some of the most common problems that’ll put a vehicle out of service? The most common problem is damaged air lines, Brown noted. He suggested carriers place an emphasis on this significant problem during safety meetings. Other common problems involve the lighting system, load securement, leaking tires, out-of-adjustment brakes and driver logs.

Brown noted drivers are required to keep 14 days’ worth of logs with them at all times and pointed out the date of this year’s Roadcheck is significant, because drivers will need to supply about a week’s worth of logs from May in addition to their June logs.

“If they have already turned in May’s log book (to the fleet), they’re going ot be out-of-service,” Brown warned. A driver found to have falsified logs will be placed out-of-service for 72 hours. Brown said inspection officers also routinely find drivers who are carrying a suspended licence.

“I always tell the officers that the fact somebody has a driver’s licence in their wallet doesn’t mean they’re licensed,” Brown said.

Brown said fleets can improve their odds of making June 8-10 a stress-free time by emphasizing the importance of proper pre- and post-trip inspections and ensuring drivers are familiar with the procedure. He urged fleet managers to walk through their yards and take note of how thorough their drivers’ pre-trips are.

“If all they’re doing is backing up to a wall so they can see the reflection of the lights on the wall and then emptying the ash tray – they’re not doing it,” Brown said. “Don’t be content with mediocre inspections.”

Finally, Brown invited fleets to visit a nearby inspection station during Roadcheck to see first-hand what the inspection process entails.

“This is one of the few times we invite you to come to our house and watch us work,” he said. Anyone interested in attending an inspection should pre-register by e-mailing and requesting a registration form, or calling a local inspection station.

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