What really happens during a CVSA inspection according to an MTO enforcement program advisor

KING CITY, Ont. – There were plenty of laughs the annual PMTC conference when Bob Lickers of the MTO began his seminar by joking that he was glad there was no food in the room for the audience (mostly fleet managers/owners) to throw at him.

As one of the two members of the MTO to speak at the conference, Lickers gave the registrants an inside look at how the CVSA inspection is actually conducted because as it was pointed out, many fleet managers have never witnessed one first-hand.

“Some of the goals for CVSA are we want to improve commercial vehicle and dangerous goods transportation on North American highways,” said Lickers. “And we want to promote safety initiatives and reduce the occurrence and severity of collisions. Ultimately, that’s kind of what we’re all about making sure that everyone gets home at the end of the day. ”

Lickers explained there are three levels of road-side inspections. A CVSA level one inspection has 38 steps and it is a full mechanical and driver inspection, where drivers would have to provide necessary documentation to the officer. A CVSA level two inspection is a 31-step procedure, where the majority of the steps are repeated just as a level one procedure (checking HoS compliance, low-air pressure etc.) however, the inspector is not going under the vehicle. A level three inspection is only a 13-step procedure that involves no mechanical inspection, just the presentation of documentation from the driver.

Lickers  pointed out that these levels are standardized, meaning that the same level one inspection you receive in Ontario is the same level one inspection you’d be getting in southern Mexico.

The purpose of an inspection is four-fold. The CVSA is to check to see if drivers are in violation, if they are out-of-service, if the vehicle has defects and if the vehicle is out-of-service.

Lickers dedicated a greater portion of his seminar addressing the common issues he runs into during inspections, such as drivers who slow down or stop in front of a flashing truck inspection station sign (despite being seen by the MTO officer on duty) or drivers who bypass around the inspection station.

“Cell phone use and seat belt use is also quite common out there,” said Lickers. “It’s something that we certainly monitor when we’re at the truck inspection station because that is still part of the highway.”

Documentation issues were also a hot topic. Lickers described instances where drivers had multiple and/or  old CVOR and insurance certificates, no permit binders or handed over loose documents to an officer.

Lickers admitted that some drivers get tripped up during an inspection because they are nervous. He noted that drivers often don’t know what a Schedule 1 is or where to find it. When asked to present a Schedule 1, Lickers said some drivers  rip apart their truck looking for it (in some cases, even after they’ve handed their book with Schedule 1),  or misunderstand, and tell the officer what they did that day.

“When we’re asking for the daily inspection and for the schedule, we’ve had a number of reactions from people panicking to them not realizing what the schedule is,” he said.

Advice on how to assist drivers and make the inspection process a little smoother for everyone involved was offered up during the seminar as well. Lickers said it was important for drivers to know the day-to-day use of their vehicle (like how to open the hood), to co-operate with the request of the inspector, to keep their logbooks legible, to know how to use the EBOR and to know where to find and what the Schedule 1 is.

“Within this industry, we have to have a nice little balance between enforcement and the (transportation) industry because ultimately we are a part of each other’s day,” said Lickers. “So when it comes down to driver behaviour, and request from the inspector, we have ways of being able to communicate to the operator whether we have a less-than-professional driver…and we have expectations of professionalism. Our officers also have a standard of professionalism that we have to maintain.”

Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface.

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  • Can someone please explain how a 2014 tractor, gleaming from bumper to bumper is chosen for inspection, while the smoke belching, visibly falling apart container hauler directly in front of me is given the green light??? And this isn’t a one time event. I think several of us already know the answer, yet no one seems to have the b___s to tell us why that is. I’m all ears for a reasonable explanation.

  • The inspectors don’t want to deal with a minority; they may be called racist if they stop them. We could solve this by having true random inspections! Every third or twentieth truck gets inspected!

  • Sadly, I believe you are correct….. Wow, thats a real fair solution by them, let the beat up falling apart truck continue on its way for “fear” of being called a “racist”, and detain the safe and presentable units to avoid a false accusation? ….Seems to me, they need to grow a set and deal with the problem vehicles and not worry about who’s steering it ….The next question would be, whose really the racist and minority now?!!

  • I asked an inspector that same question a few years back,while getting a level 1 inspection in stoney creek ont. I said how come i have a truck and trailer with less than 10,000 kms on both units and there were trucks going through that wouldnt pass for yard shunters. This officer was very profesional,and quite nice said that the fallout from stopping these units and their drivers, is just a lawsuit in the making. Its not worth the hassle and torture and are actually advised to look the other way….. Nothing like equality.

  • I’ve been driving for over 45 years and have never been asked for a schedule one. I just hand over my license, dangerous goods card and the binder. Good thing, I haven’t got a clue of what a schedule one is!

  • Companies are given notice of drivers logs, compliance and which vehicles will be inspected. If a vehicle won’t pass, no problem. Take the bald tires off, swap them onto another unit. Pass. Rewrite logs for a driver? No problem. B.C. does a forensic inspection. Two weeks before the inspection. The company MUST supply a list of drivers and equipment going back five years. The auditor flips open his/her laptop and it randomly selects driver files and an equipment list.
    It pisses me off that CVSA is so underfunded that compliance is done with a wink and a nod. I spent years as a National Safety Code Compliance Officer. These horrendous accidents will continue.