The annual CVSA RoadCheck across the U.S. and parts of Mexico and Canada took place in early June (2018). While we await the final numbers, we have another event to look to from Calgary, Alberta. The small-scale Canadian road check that got underway on August 16 does not show the Canadian trucking industry in a very good light. It is a somber reminder to motor carriers here in the U.S.
Every year, the Lethbridge Police Service teams up with a number of local organizations to patrol the roads of southern Alberta, keeping an eye out for potentially unsafe trucks. If one is spotted, it is pulled over and immediately inspected. Trucks failing the inspection are taken off the road.
So how did they do this year? According to Global News, the first day of the event saw 116 trucks pulled over. Of them, 81% failed the roadside inspection. A whopping 67% had violations severe enough to be taken off the road. If that sounds bad, there’s more. That 67% represents a 2% increase from 2017.
The Importance of Roadside Checks
A Lethbridge Police Service spokesperson told local press of his alarm at finding so many failed vehicles. It is hard to disagree with his assessment. An 81% failure rate is simply not acceptable. Moreover, having to pull so many vehicles off the road indicates a pretty dangerous situation in that part of Canada. Hopefully what is going on in Alberta isn’t indicative of the entire Canadian trucking industry.
If nothing else, the road check is an important reminder of how necessary it is to inspect commercial vehicles. Here in the United States, the motor carrier industry finds the checks cumbersome and inconvenient. But your average truck driver understands how necessary they are. Indeed, we check tractor-trailers and box trucks for the same reason we check passenger vehicles.
The reality of the matter is that not everyone will keep their vehicles up to snuff if not forced to do so by law. We need road checks and inspections to guarantee our roads are as safe as they can be.
Roadside Checks for Trucks
Commercial vehicles are subject to a lot more scrutiny than passenger cars, and with good reason. A typical roadside check involves a nose to tail inspection on just about everything. Inspectors check tires, lights, brakes, and cables. They check to make sure loads are secure. They check the integrity of tiedown straps, chains, blocks, and even the rubber bungee cords that hold truck tarps in place.
Mytee Products, an Ohio company that equips truck drivers with cargo control supplies, explains that there are certain kinds of cargo-related violations considered just a serious as mechanical violations. A driver can easily be sidelined for a load that is improperly secured or overweight.
Experienced truck drivers are very familiar with all the details of the roadside check. They know exactly what inspectors are looking for. They also know that the key to staying out of trouble is making sure both truck and load meet regulatory standards. If they do not, there is always a chance that a serious violation could put them out of service.
Here’s hoping the annual CVSA RoadCheck numbers for 2018 come back better than last year. We all want to see that the American trucking industry is making strides to improve safety. In the meantime, drivers and motor carriers operating in Alberta have some work to do. Perhaps a good goal for 2019 would be to reduce the number of trucks taken out of service to fewer than half.