It's Still Driveable
I saw many things over the two decades that I spent in full time traffic law enforcement. Some of those things left me shaking my head wondering why the driver ever chose to leave the driveway! If you don't value the life of other road users, surely you value your own.
During an evening shift I was met by a car whose driver failed to dim the headlights. A glance in the mirror as I passed by also revealed a lack of rear lights. After stopping the driver and examining the vehicle I determined that the headlights only worked on high beam and none of the rear lights worked at all.
The car had been involved in a rear end collision and the driver was waiting for ICBC to fix it. It was their only vehicle and the family was returning from a non-essential trip that involved a 4 hour drive each way. At that time of year there were about 8 hours of daylight, so the outing could not have been conducted exclusively during the daylight.
I would often meet the commercial vehicle inspector and we would work together at a brake check location. An examination of a farm truck determined that only one it's air brakes was properly adjusted. The driver was ticketed and ordered to adjust his brakes properly before proceeding.
He stomped away but soon returned. He did not have the necessary wrench to adjust the brakes with. Would one of the truckers who had stopped to check their brakes loan one to him?
After another ten minutes or so had passed, the driver was back again. Which way do you turn the brake adjuster was the question this time. The trucker who loaned him the wrench rolled his eyes, took him in hand and showed him how to adjust his brakes too.
Speeding on it's own can be bad enough, but throw in willful blindness and the results could be tragic. One such driver earned a tow truck ride home. When he was producing his documents to me a scan of the vehicle interior revealed that he had covered the brake warning light on his dash with black electrical tape. The light was too bright when he drove at night he explained to me.
Checking the tire tread when approaching a vehicle became almost a reflex action for me. The tread wear bars that tires are equipped with these days mean that I don't even have to use a tread depth gauge when winter tires are not required. If they are showing in two adjacent grooves, the tire is considered to be worn out.
Occasionally I would discover a vehicle with a wheel alignment problem. The majority of the tire tread looked just fine, but one shoulder of the tire would be worn so badly that the cords were showing through the rubber. That's definitely an out of service condition.
I actually met a graduate from the Red Green School of Mechanics one day. His windshield wipers had stopped working so he had tied a thin rope to the driver's wiper, passed it through both vent windows to lay on the dash and then tied the other end to the passenger's wiper. If it ever rained, he just had his passenger pull the rope to operate the wipers.
Do we even want to know what happened when it rained and he was alone?
My preferred method of dealing with drivers like these was the Notice & Order. There were three levels of action that could be chosen, depending on the severity of the defects found.
A #3 was the least intrusive. It simply asked that you repair the noted defects and advise the police you had done so.
The #2 had more teeth. The driver was required to take the vehicle to a Designated Inspection Facility promply and pass inspection within 30 days. If the pass was not obtained within that time, the vehicle could no longer be driven or parked on a highway.
A #1 was for the vehicles that were truly dangerous. From the moment it was issued until inspection was passed, the vehicle could not be driven or parked on a highway and had to be moved by tow truck or on a trailer.
This is unbelievable - did the guy even have an airbrake endorsement (Restriction 15) on his driver license?
Every driver of an airbrake equipped vehicle should have a 9/16" wrench, and use it every day! And, it's impossible for anybody to have passed the necessary course and tests without being keenly aware of it.
I cannot understand why there weren't much greater repurcussions for this guy - his complete ignorance should have been sufficient to order him not to drive the vehicle away, even after making the adjusment, I would have thought.
Only Sort of Resident
He was a German citizen with a valid fuhrerschein appropriate to the vehicle type. He farmed here in Canada during the summer and returned to Germany during the winter.
I had a word with ICBC about the situation and made the appropriate entries on the police computer systems so that he could be dealt with using more knowledge if he was stopped again.
Back in the day it was a $109 ticket and out of service until the brakes were adjusted again.
It's not too different today save for an escalating fine and an NSC record entry.
Air Brake Endorsement
In this case the reason was non-resident.
In my case I was "Grandfathered" in when the licencing system changed. In 61 years of having what is now referred to as a Class 1 I have never written an exam or being asked to demonstrate that I know how to adjust brakes.
Of course, driving semi's in 1956 I have a feeling if one didn't know how to adjust brakes I wouldn't still be around today.
And well writing this I got to thinking I wonder how many of todays professional truck drivers would survive the day if they had to make do with 5 x 4 non synchro transmissions, no power steering and some trucks still had juice brakes and they were not even power assisted.
I think that would eliminate the vast majority of them.
License Classification, etc
As I recall, it was 72/73 when BC pioneered in north america, by introducing complete classification of licenses, as well as requiring an airbrake course and pretrip inspection examination for anyone to drive an airbrake equipped bus or truck. And one of the motivators was surely the number of truck crashes that happened in our mountainous province, in many cases due to ignorance on proper procedures by the driver.
I'm OK with any sort of roadranger, driven Macks and all kinds, but my one time out in a 5 & 4 I clumsily spent an awful lotta time in neutral ...
Submitted by E-Mail
I was reading this and it reminded me of one incident that always stuck in my mind.
I knew a farmer from my hometown who owned a cabover Freightliner. The engine had blown up, and he, being resourceful as well as cheap, had pulled the air cooled Deutz from one of his tractors, and somehow, got it operational.
I was heading south on the interstate, around Sioux Falls Iowa, and recognized his truck heading north.
In the darkness, I could see a huge flame inside the cab, as passed. He had no CB, so I really wondered what the hell that was all about.
I ran into him a couple months later, and mentioned this to him. His explanation made perfect sense, but his reasons didn't. Since the engine was air cooled, there was no coolant to operate the cab heat, and he had installed some old 12 volt bus heaters. His wiring was likely equal to the rest of his efforts, and had shorted out, leaving him with no heat or defrost.
The day I had seen him, he had a couple propane BBQ tanks in the bunk, with a tiger torch attached, and he had that laying on the mattress with the flame pointing towards the windshield, to defrost it. He did say that at one point it had rolled off onto the floor on the passenger side, and by the time he got pulled over, the fire was almost beyond what he could handle with the extinguisher he had.
I kid you not.