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Truck inspection blitz in Canada shows continuation of long-term safety improvements

OTTAWA, Ont.– The results of Roadcheck 2006, the Canadian component of the annual North American truck inspection blitz, have been released by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).

The numbers show that the mechanical fitness of trucks inspected during the annual blitz is in line with a positive 10-year trend: the out-of-service rate this year is marginally higher than it was in 2005, but better than the 2004 level.

A total of 7,384 trucks were inspected in Canada over the three-day blitz which took place from June 6 to 8. This year, 79.7 percent of vehicles passed the rigorous CVSA inspection process, compared with 81.4 percent in 2005 and 78.3 per cent in 2004. The out-of-service rate for drivers inspected in Canada reflecting log book or other documentation problems remained low at under 4 percent.

“The results of Roadcheck 2006 appear to confirm the fact that in general, the truck fleet in Canada is in good shape,” said CEO David Bradley, Canadian Trucking Alliance. However, Bradley says he questions the value of a one-week blitz.

“Safety should be a 365 days a year pre-occupation. There is a school of thought that roadside inspections are less effective as a compliance tool than facility audits. More recent research suggests there should be more focus on driving behaviour by all drivers than on the mechanical condition of trucks.”

Bradley also pointed out that the industry has long questioned the methodology used during Roadcheck. First, while CVSA states that vehicles are selected randomly, no statistics are kept on the number of vehicles waved through an inspection station and considered “passed” due to the presence of a valid CVSA inspection decal.

“A few years ago, at the industry’s request, these numbers were tracked and resulted in significant reductions in out-of-service rates. However, that practice was discontinued and the validity of the numbers has suffered as a result,” said Bradley.

Moreover, the industry questions the linkage between out-of-service rates recorded and real-life safety performance.

An out-of-service condition can occur for very minor infractions something as simple as a burned-out signal light bulb. In fact, as CCMTA itself pointed out in its recent statement on Roadcheck 2006, “in many cases, drivers were able to make the necessary adjustments on-site, were re-inspected and continued on their trip.”

According to Bradley, “by not providing details on the number of trucks showing a valid CVSA decal, nor on the number and type of serious defects that resulted in a shutdown or tow-away, there is a real limit to what can be learned from Roadcheck.”

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