Are commercial vehicles rolling hazards?
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 06:00 am
Local motorists who use St. Albert Trail must have been alarmed to hear over the weekend that a commercial truck inspection held in Edmonton saw the majority of large trucks fail the test.
Commercial trucks, which could include anything from an 18-wheeler carrying lumber to three-ton delivery trucks or any truck that weighs more than 4,500 kilograms, were inspected by capital region police and provincial transport officers over the past month. Of the 500 trucks inspected, more than 50 per cent failed inspection outright. Another 24 per cent required immediate attention for unsecure loads, brake problems or unsafe tires.
That is a 75 per cent failure rate, which is comparable to similar inspections that have been undertaken by police and transport officers in the Red Deer and Calgary areas.
Drivers are provincially responsible for ensuring their vehicles and their loads are safe. But not all drivers own their own trucks. Many of the estimated 22,000 Alberta trucking firms hire drivers to haul freight. It’s the responsibility of the ownership to ensure trucks and loads are safe.
St. Albert Trail is a truck route, in addition to being the major artery of the city. Commercial truck traffic coming into and out of the city is likely heading into Edmonton for whatever reason, meaning the commercial truck failure rate of 75 per cent affects this community.
The trail also features a substantial slope as it heads down to the Sturgeon River and St. Anne Street. If the numbers from the commercial truck inspection hold up, and there’s no reason to assume they don’t, it means 75 per cent of the commercial trucks heading towards that intersection have issues, and half of them have issues serious enough that they shouldn’t be on the road.
Alberta motorists are used to seeing hunks and chunks of shredded commercial truck tires laying on the road. If one of those tires shredded as the truck drove down the trail to St. Anne Street, the result could be catastrophic.
Also, traffic on St. Albert Trail is tight. There is not a lot of room to manoeuvre, and driving next to a commercial truck that could have a tire blast out, right next to a car window, doesn’t make for a relaxing commute home at the end of the day.
Obviously, brake issues on that hill could be just as disastrous. Keep in mind the recent tweaking to traffic lights on the trail and around the city, coupled with up to 75 per cent of commercial trucks that could have serious brake problems heading downhill to the St. Anne Street intersection. Hopefully such vehicles are loaded only with silly putty or eggs, not petroleum or molten metal.
Trucking companies and truck owners need to keep Albertans’ safety in mind. Truck maintenance isn’t optional; it’s mandatory. Neglect will cause, at the least, harm to the environment and, at worst, deaths of bystanders.