Inspections Keep Streets Safe

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 10:54 a.m. August 28, 2018

A small group of officers is scanning the truck traffic that floods into the city each day with an aim to ensure the streets stay safe.

A man in TPS uniform writing on a notepad by a large engine
Constable Paul Breeze makes a note on a brake measurement while he inspects a dump truck

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspection section of Traffic Services stop and inspect heavy trucks and other commercial vehicles to ensure they meet all the safety standards – from properly inflated tires to adequate brake systems.

Between January 1, 2017 and June 25, 2018, Constable Brian Horton has laid 916 Highway Traffic Act (HTA) charges, the majority of which relate to mechanical defects of a vehicle and/or load security.

In the same time period, he also laid 270 charges under the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act.

“As Canada’s largest city, there’s a large volume of commercial vehicles travelling in and around it,” said Horton. “Over the years, our Traffic Services Highway Truck Squad (HTS) has formed excellent partnerships with many other Greater Toronto Area police and non-police agencies to maintain safety on our streets. These partnerships strive to improve commercial drivers’ behaviour and encourage compliance with industry regulations through education and strategic enforcement.”

The Service’s HTS unit comprises four core members who can stop and inspect any commercial vehicle on the road. 

In all, 15 officers are certified  Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspectors.

The CVSA is an association of state, provincial, and federal officials responsible for the administration and enforcement of motor carrier safety laws in Canada, the United States and Mexico. It was established to promote an environment free of commercial vehicle accidents and incidents.

“This unit specializes in the inspection of commercial motor vehicles,” said Sgt. Robert Brown, who is a certified inspector. “We inspect dangerous goods and look for major defects and load security while ensuring that drivers are not extending themselves to the point they are not getting sufficient rest.”

Brown reminded drivers to do their pre-trip inspection check, which is a regulated requirement, before getting behind the wheel.

“One must keep in mind that when dealing with a commercial vehicle, particularly a heavy truck, there are numerous exposed components that are critical to the safe operation of the vehicle,” he said. “Failure of any of these components could result in significant injury to road users. The certified vehicle inspectors at Traffic Services are highly trained to identify the major defects that most likely result in serious collisions and injuries. On average, 35 to 45 per cent of the commercial vehicles inspected are taken out of service for one or more major defects. As you can see, there is much work to do. The only acceptable out of service percentage is zero. Every vehicle on our roadways should be safe.”

So far in 2018, the HTS and other Traffic Services CVSA inspectors have done nearly 773 vehicle inspections.

“With the amount of developing infrastructure in and around the city at present, the volume of commercial vehicles on the streets has exploded exponentially, making the Highway Truck Squad a critical and valuable asset to the Service,” said CVSA inspector Constable Paul Breeze.

A man in TPS uniform with a TPS truck
Constable Dal Gill with a Commercial Vehicle Inspection truck

Constable Dal Gill recalls a call he received to investigate a school bus on the Don Valley Parkway with a loose wheel.

“The bus had children inside, it was found to be unsafe and charges were laid,” said Gill. “During the investigation, there were some questions about when the bus was certified, so Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario College of Trades enforcement officers were brought in to assist with the investigation. The work we do together is essential.”

Gill said the CVSA program is a very useful asset.

“It is a great way to build relationships with a number of police departments and other investigative services across North America,” he said.

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