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Burnaby's commercial vehicle cop points to 'Ontario model' for improved truck safety

Nearly 7 out of 10 trucks checked in Burnaby last year were taken off the road for safety violations. Burnaby RCMP Const. Kevin Connolly told the city's public safety committee in November it might be time to look to Ontario to see what that province is doing right.
A tanker truck carrying 40,000 litres of liquid nitrogen jumped a curb and smashed into a fence in Burnaby in September because of faulty brakes.

Police took nearly 541 unsafe trucks off Burnaby roads last year, but there’s still "a lot" of room for improvement, according to Burnaby RCMP.

The detachment put out 2023 statistics on its commercial vehicle enforcement efforts earlier this month.

There were 41 enforcement operations in Burnaby last year, 10 more than in 2022.

Out of 811 trucks inspected in 2023, 541 (67 per cent) were taken off the road for safety violations.

That percentage is actually an improvement from 2022 when 70 per cent of the trucks checked inside Burnaby city limits were put out of service.

"Though the percentage of trucks placed out of service has inched down slightly this past year, there is still a lot of room for road safety improvement," Burnaby RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Kalanj said in a news release.

Const. Kevin Connolly, who currently works full time on commercial vehicle enforcement in Burnaby, held up Ontario as a good example of how to tackle the problem.

In a presentation to the city's public safety committee in November, Connolly said Ontario's approach includes both provincial and municipal enforcement "to ensure that that enforcement on municipal roadways is not overlooked."

Ontario also focuses on roadside enforcement, ticketing and laying charges, while B.C.'s Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement Agency combines education and enforcement "with a greater focus on education initiatives," according to Connolly.

In 2022, Connolly noted there were 11,248 crashes involving commercial vehicles in B.C. compared to 9,110 in Ontario, where there are more people and "much greater" truck traffic.

In 2019, 22 per cent of the trucks checked in Ontario were taken out of service for being unsafe, compared to about 60 per cent in Burnaby.

Three Lower Mainland cities (Vancouver, Delta and New Westminster) have adopted the Ontario approach by creating their own dedicated commercial vehicle enforcement teams.

Burnaby is trying out the idea in a one-year pilot project that began in October.

Since that time, Connolly's regular traffic safety position has been dedicated to commercial vehicle enforcement.

With a permanent commercial vehicle enforcement team, Connolly said the detachment could carry out more local enforcement.

Burnaby would be the first RCMP detachment to adopt the model.

Connolly has unofficially spearheaded the detachment's commercial vehicle enforcement initiatives for years, training to become a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspector in 2019.

Connolly has also headed up regional efforts since 2020, bringing together agencies from around the Lower Mainland for rotating joint enforcement blitzes in different cities.

Last year, those regional enforcements (50 in all) saw 1,715 trucks checked and 999 (58 per cent) taken off the road for safety violations.

In the future, Connolly said the group plans to start reporting companies identified as "egregious" offender to the National Safety Code Office for possible suspension.

Connolly is also working with ICBC and other Lower Mainland agencies to create an information session for companies and drivers.

"Something companies, drivers can come to and get that baseline of information of what are their responsibilities, an introduction to cargo securement and other items, so then they have at least some kind of knowledge that we can then work from and build from," Connolly said.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on X/Twitter @CorNaylor
Email [email protected]

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