What You Need to Know About Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspections

CVSE road check

We sometimes get the question: what kinds of inspections do commercial vehicles have to go through to ensure they are operating safely?

It’s a great question, especially since the way CVSE (Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement) carries out inspections has evolved over the years.

The most notable change is increasing mobile inspections and using technology to help focus inspections on commercial vehicles that need them. So, how does this play out?


Well, looking back 15 years, all commercial vehicles (by definition: any vehicle designed to carry a load with a licenced GVW of more than 5,500 kg) were required to stop at fixed scales (AKA inspections stations). Think of it as a dragnet approach, where all vehicles – good and not-so-good – were required to spend time being inspected at fixed locations.

There are a couple problems with this kind of dragnet approach:

  1. Inspections were predictable
  2. Inspectors were dedicating a lot of time to vehicles that were in good, safe working order

CVSE inspector conducts road side inspection

While commercial vehicles are still required to report to inspection stations, we have moved toward a more targeted and mobile approach to enforcement – in conjunction with stationary weigh scales – which allows CVSE officers to concentrate on vehicles more likely to fail an inspection. It frees up CVSE’s resources, allowing them to spend more time on those vehicles needing to be looked at.

“It’s all designed for efficiency,” says CVSE Deputy Director Perry Dennis. “It’s designed to catch those that are trying to evade the process, and let the good ones go by.”

So, how do officers separate the good from the bad? Technology plays a big role.

Based on National Safety Code standards, data is collected to determine a carrier’s rating, taking into account history such as violation tickets, out-of-service records, and at-fault crashes. Inspectors are highly trained in spotting defects on commercial vehicles; so, the carrier’s rating, combined with what the officers see on the road, allow them to separate the good from the not-so-good (or unknown).

Technology is boosting efficiency at stationary inspection stations, too. Weigh2GoBC technology allows commercial carriers to bypass Weigh2GoBC inspection stations. A vehicle with a registered transponder communicates with a weigh-in-motion equipped station upon approach, and the vehicle is identified and checked for height, weight and safety credentials while travelling at highway speed. By reducing the number of vehicles that must report to inspection stations, inspectors have time to identify and focus on higher-risk carriers.

CVSE Inspection Station

CVSE also participates in road check events on the international and provincial levels. The annual CVSA International Roadcheck takes place across North America over a 72-hour period, with enforcement agencies randomly stopping commercial vehicles at various locations across their jurisdictions. Now, it’s important to note that, although the road check is meant to be random, officers also stop trucks that show evidence of an infraction.

Wait, there’s more…

Commercial vehicle safety doesn’t end there. Carriers must have internal maintenance and safety programs in place for their vehicles and drivers, which includes monitoring their drivers’ records. They must also ensure every vehicle is inspected at a government licenced facility twice a year as part of the Vehicle Inspections and Standards program.

Did you know CVSE officers are also trained to inspect commercial vehicles that are carrying dangerous goods? The Transport of Dangerous Good (TDG) program promotes safety in BC in combination with the federal TDG program.

So let’s review…

Every year, a commercial vehicle operates with the following safe guards in place:

  • Internal maintenance and safety programs
  • Bi-annual inspections at a government licenced facility
  • Stationary inspections at weigh scales
  • Targeted mobile inspections
  • CVSE International Roadcheck

CVSE not only has a duty to enforce, but also educate. Providing guidance to commercial truck drivers during each interaction is a big part of what officers do. In fact, a stop doesn’t always mean a ticket – it can be a warning and opportunity to inform. Drivers often come into the inspection stations to ask officers questions, too. And we’re really glad they do.

In the end, commercial vehicle safety requires government and industry to work together. Maintaining solid relationships and open lines of communication with commercial drivers, BC Trucking Association, and other provincial associations is vital to maintaining a safe transportation network for goods, services, and travellers.

Page 1 of 19 comments on “What You Need to Know About Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspections”

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  1. When does a vehicle need yearly / 6 month inspections on it, is there a certain GVW you hit and this comes into effect.. 5500KG?

    I know under that you don’t need to scale but over 5000KG you still need to display a GVW and NSC number on your truck. Just not sure if you also need yearly inspections between 5000KG and 5500KG.

    Thank you.

    • Hi there Byron. Thanks for your question. We have sent it to our staff for their input and will get back to you here as soon as we have the information for you.

    • Hi there Ron – sorry – just to clarify – are you wondering if you need to have your GVW displayed on the outside of your vehicle?

    • Hi Dale,

      Not quite sure what you mean. Are you asking if, instead of taking your vehicle to a certified inspection shop, can your mechanic come to your house to verify?

    • All final provincial vehicle inspections must be conducted at the location of a licenced designated inspection facility.

  2. On 256st maple ridge lots of trucks with brake parts falling off on the road ,
    They need to set up here!!! And one truck lost a steel bridge when turning onto 128 st!,
    And a dump truck lost the pup !!!

    • Hi there anonymous – thanks for this information. We have sent your comment forward to the good folks in the CVSE for follow up.

  3. Hello I just bought a small car with a B.C. cvse sticker on the windshield what does this mean.!Any information would be great. Thank you.

    • Hi Lee – thanks for your question. The CVSE is our Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement – the good folks responsible for making sure all things related to commercial safety are taken care of on BC highways. Here’s a link to more information: http://www.cvse.ca

      Why your car has a sticker on it – we can’t say. Perhaps an employee put it there proudly?

  4. It seems the majority of time that i drive by the scales at vanderhoof or Prince George they are closed and i very seldom see a truck pulled over anywhere on the highway,and i drive a lot.

    • Hi Ian – thanks for letting us know your concern. Some weigh scales have random hours which are supplemented by mobile enforcement. Here is a list of our CVSE inspection stations, their hours and contact information. If you would like to confirm hours of a particular station, or speak further with someone directly about a concern you might have, we encourage you to contact the station directly. http://www.cvse.ca/inspection_stations.htm

      Also, if you have a general concern about commercial vehicle safety enforcement, you can call our 24 hour hotline: 1-888-775-8785

      Hope that this helps!

  5. I have to agree cvse is a joke. They are just a bunch of revenue collectors. If you were about safety you wouldn’t ticket every chance you get. I avoid the scales like the plague. You know the record of a driver, so when you inspect him/her you know if they are a chronic offender. The poor guy just trying to make a living and makes a mistake once or twice a year doesn’t need to be ticketed for every little thing. And you wonder why your hated so much!

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      CVSE takes a best practices approach to compliance and tickets are only one tool in the belt – officers are trained to use all data at their disposal in making informed decisions with regard to enforcement, to work with our clients and to use discretion where and when appropriate.

  6. Bahahahahaha,CVSE is a joke. The junk trucks know where you guys are within 5 min of you setting up.Word goes out over a certain FM radio station thats not in English and poof,junk scabby trucks go another way around. You still pull over good mechanical sound and well maintained trucks and use it to bump the numbers.My Current CVSA decal on the windshield don’t mean anything to the guys n the lower mainland.

    I run 49 states and 9 provinces and BC is the absolute worst province to run in. Jackbooted thugs hiding behind a badge and flashing lights on a vehicle.

    And I ain’t scared to post my real name of give you my email.You have already harrassed me enough. Can’t do anything worse to me..

    • Hello Jason – thanks for sharing your feedback. Mobile enforcement is designed for and utilizes the element of surprise but it also gives our staff the agility to move locations when vehicles begin to go around. Officers can quickly pack up and move to a new location or in some cases we will use scout vehicles on side roads or have multiple locations operating at one time. CVSE officers are trained to honour CVSA decals that are valid in the current quarter unless defects are noticed or the officer wishes to look more closely at the drivers documentation. CVSE officers are also given as much information and data as possible to help them make informed decisions when choosing a vehicle or driver for inspection. We hope this helps!

  7. Most R.V. are not up to standerd,,,30 to 356 ft trailers being toed the drivers do not have a lic. to pull then most safety chains are to long,,etc,,, Just sayin.