AMHERST – Vehicle inspectors have fanned out across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico for the next few days, including inspectors in Nova Scotia.
“We started at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning and we’re going to be here until 6 p.m. Thursday evening,” said Dan Leopold, Director of Vehicle Compliance for the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.
The inspectors are working around the clock inspecting transport trucks at the eastbound weigh station just inside the Nova Scotia border. Leopold said the trucks have to be placed under the microscope.
“What the public has to understand is, in some respects, these vehicles are putting in, potentially, millions of kilometres in the run of a year,” said Leopold. “So the mechanical fitness of these vehicles is under constant change and constant repair, so these vehicles are under a lot of scrutiny.”
The inspectors go through a 37-point inspection on each truck they inspect. The inspection surveys both truck and driver.
“It takes about an hour to do a full inspection,” said Leopold. “We have four shifts of six inspectors, so 24 inspectors work six hour shifts.”
In the first six-hours of Tuesday’s road check, inspectors inspected more than 25 trucks, taking five off the road.
“Out of the five taken off the road, one is still here,” said Leopold. “The other four needed minor brake and tire adjustments and were back on the road.”
The Road Check has been an annual event for the last 25 years. Last year, they inspected 251 vehicles and found 50 defects.
“They were out of service until repaired,” said Leopold “Out of those 50 defects, 26 of them were brake related. They needed either brake components or brake adjustments, so this year we’re targeting brake safety.”
The inspectors are also focusing on the driver’s logbooks. Inspectors can take a truck off the road for 10 hours or 72 hours, depending on the severity of the logbook infraction.
“If they stop at the Big Stop in Aulac and they forget to update their status it’s not a big deal,” said Leopold. “But if they ran too many hours in their cycle, we’ll put them out of service for up to 72 hours. They will park the vehicle here for 72 hours until their log book is reset.”
Most drivers are used to being inspected.
“We do about 4,500 of these Level 1 inspections a year, so the 250 we do in this three days is a small portion of that,” said Leopold. “We do 11,000 checks on top of that that are cursory checks where we walk around the vehicle and check the drivers documentation.”
Leopold said most drivers comply with regulations.
“These guys are business people, so they’re trying to make a living and trying to do it right,” said Leopold. “99 per cent of the people are good upstanding people trying to make a living, and then you have another element of people who are trying to skirt around the rules, so that’s why we’re here.”
Leopold said compliance has improved over the last 25 years and that Nova Scotia truckers have the same level of compliance as drivers in the rest of Canada and the U.S.
“All the major companies recognize safety is part of their business,” said Leopold. “A safe fleet is a more reliable fleet and a more profitable fleet, so maintaining vehicles is the responsible thing to do.”