Even though human error is often cited as a contributing factor in most vehicle crashes, a recent Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine story reports that a significant number of collisions in Ontario since 2014 were caused by transport trucks in poor operating condition.
Significant numbers of commercial vehicle operating issues were also found during the Canadian Vehicle Safety Alliance’s 2016 Road Check inspection blitz. During the three-day event, one fifth of the 62,000 commercial vehicles inspected were placed out of service due to critical item violations. Of those, brake adjustment and brake system violations combined to represent 45.7 per cent of the violations.1
Commercial vehicle inspections in BC
Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement is the BC member of the Canadian Vehicle Safety Alliance. CVSE officers conduct more than 30,000 vehicle inspections each year, issuing violation tickets and removing unsafe vehicles from the provincial roadways every day.
Faulty equipment blamed
Faulty brakes were also cited as a causal factor in the COS story. Other types of defective equipment mentioned were damaged axles, blown tires or detached wheels and defective hitches. Still others were unsecured loads or truck equipment flying into the path of other vehicles.
These are problems that regular vehicle inspections and maintenance may be able to identify before they become problems that cause or contribute to crashes.
Inspection and maintenance costs vs. crash costs
Many may believe that fixing or replacing faulty equipment is more expensive and time consuming than inspecting and maintaining it, but that is far from true. In fact, when you take into account potentially increased insurance costs and WorkSafeBC assessment fees, vehicle and employee replacement costs and lost productivity, inspection and maintenance costs are small in comparison.
An employer’s responsibility
If enough argument, the fact is that regular vehicle inspections and maintenance are the legal responsibility of employers who have employees who drive for work, whether those employees drive a transport truck or other company vehicle or their own vehicle for work.
Pages three and four of our Employers’ Guide to Road Safety Requirements list suggested work practices to address employer responsibilities for the inspection and maintenance of vehicles driven for work.
Two of the suggestions it contains are:
- Have a written procedure by which the operator verifies that that a qualified person has inspected the vehicle and the inspection indicates the vehicle is safe to use
- Conduct spot-checks and keep records of inspections as well as any associated reports and repairs or follow-up
A handy tool to help with vehicle maintenance is AutoCheck which lists key vehicle components and how often you should expect they will require maintenance attention.
With all the factors that might possibly converge to result in a crash, regular vehicle inspections and maintenance are the most reliable and effective way to guard against a mechanical issue being a contributor, or a cause.
¹ These are the most recent statistics available for this event. The 2017 event took place in early June across Canada and results are not yet available.