What’s Next for the Ministry and Industry
The most recent Ontario Provincial Auditor General’s Report uncovered some major shortcomings when it comes to the administration and enforcement of regulations,
governing Commercial Motor Vehicle Carriers, drivers, programs and people.
The 48-page report states that Ontario ‘consistently ranks among the safest provinces in Canada’ and ‘compares favourably to the United States for overall road safety’; however, the Ministry has many opportunities to improve safety through its commercial vehicle safety and enforcement program.
The Auditor General listed 19 recommendations for the Ministry to address, including consistencies in inspections – roadside, follow-ups, and on urban/municipal roadways; working with municipalities that operate commercial vehicles and carriers who test their own employees for commercial vehicle driver’s licenses; and extending Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) to other commercial class driver’s licenses.
Private Motor Carrier had the opportunity to connect with the Ministry of Transportation office and ask some questions regarding the Auditor General’s Report and next steps to take – as a Department and for the industry:
Was the Ontario Ministry of Transportation office prepared for the findings in the Auditor General’s Report?
Yes, the Ministry was actively engaged throughout the audit period and had an opportunity to review and respond to the OAGO findings. The Ministry is in agreement with the findings of the AG and in many cases, work to address the findings is already underway.
In response, you mention the introduction of new technology – how will the adaptation of new technology aid with mending the need for reviewing existing programs and development of new safety programs and policies.
The Ministry will continue exploring technology developments that support ongoing streamlining of safety resources and outcomes. When technology or alternative compliance strategies demonstrate opportunities to achieve efficiencies and/or enhance safety outcomes the Ministry will consider implementation. For example, the Ministry is piloting new roadside screening technology such as thermal imaging that allows officers to identify potential safety issues that they previously might not detect without a full inspection.
One program mentioned is Drivewyze and the recommendation of making it mandatory for all carriers. Could you explain how this program ensures compliance amongst carriers and the benefits that would come with making it a mandatory program?
The Ministry has implemented a pre-screening system (Drivewyze) across the province that will streamline participating carriers on-road inspection frequency based on safety performance data.
This work will allow officers working at our Truck Inspection Stations to more closely focus compliance efforts on unknown operators or those with poor safety records as well as reduce industry burden for those with strong safety records.
As the program is relatively new, the Ministry has agreed with the Auditor General recommendation to undertake a cost benefit analysis of requiring mandatory subscription over the next 18 months. This assessment will take a balance approach between safety outcomes and business cost factors in developing options for consideration.
Another mention is the development of a Truck Safety and Oversight Study. Could you go into further detail about this study, explaining what this study will analyze? And with the completion of the Truck Safety and Oversight Study, what are the hypothetical outcomes you wish to see be produced from this study?
The Ministry undertook the Truck Safety and Oversight Study prior to the Auditor General’s team beginning their audit. Data and early findings were shared as both activities progressed. Now that the study has been completed, the Ministry is reviewing all findings for strategies that could generate strong safety outcomes.
This feasibility work is just getting underway and will inform future activities that support the road safety vision and align to our work with key stakeholders.
A key contributor to the issues addressed in the Auditor General’s report is connected to hiring and retaining quality talent (i.e. enforcement officers) What measures will you take to streamline the hiring process to ensure that you find individuals who are both the ‘right fit’ and are qualified to perform an in-depth inspection and investigation of carriers.
Ministry enforcement staff has always played a significant role in highway safety. The Ministry has committed to reviewing our recruitment strategies to ensure we continue to attract top talent in the position as well as maintain the required staffing level to achieve strong safety results.
In response to several recommendations, you reference the review of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Program. Could you explain what this program is and how your review will lead to better performance of the program to serve the industry?
The goal of the review is to determine the most effective commercial vehicle safety and enforcement operations that builds on Ontario’s leading truck and road safety record and supports the industry in achieving regulatory compliance. It will ensure our program has a clear mandate and the appropriate resources and tools to deliver on that mandate, working collaboratively with other compliance ministries and enforcement partners.
Will you be working with the Ontario Trucking Association, Private Motor Council of Canada, the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association, the Association of Municipalities in Ontario or other organizations to review current programs, develop new safety initiatives, programs and policies, and bridge the gap between rural, urban and municipal highways to address some of the issues listed throughout the report?
Yes, the Ministry values the input and ideas of our associations, carriers and municipalities.
Over the past year, the Ministry has worked closely with industry and enforcement partners to develop key actions that will improve safety outcomes while ensuring our programs effectively support the industry and reduce burden. As we move forward stakeholders will be active partners at the table.
Does the Ontario Ministry of Transportation Office have an estimated timeline for when these listed recommendations will be addressed and solutions be implemented?
The Ministry has committed to the Auditor General to address most of the findings over the next two years.
Work on many fronts is well underway and some actions will be completed earlier, although some of the recommendations and action items will require in depth review before beginning discussion on implementation.
As the Ontario Ministry of Transportation works through these challenges, what can the trucking industry do on their part to be compliant and stay safe.
The Ministry appreciates the role safe carriers play in bringing goods to market and moving people.
Every year, nearly $1.3 trillion dollars in goods are moved on Ontario’s highways and roads by trucks, which constitutes over half of Canada total GDP of approximately 2.2 trillion. The trucking industry has always been valued supporters of safety programs and effective partners in program development. Leveraging the 60,000 carriers registered In Ontario – nearly half (43%) of all carriers in Canada – supports Ontario’s leadership in modern safety program design and delivery.
As trucking is the largest transportation component by far and the last mile of Ontario and Canada’s supply chain, the industry brings innovation and sound advice to our mutual evolution on safety initiatives. The industry can contribute to our mutual safety objectives by retaining highly skilled, well-trained drivers and incorporating robust vehicle maintenance systems into their business management practice. Activities that reduce negative driver behaviours and mechanical defects drive on road safety.
Follow-up with PMTC President Mike Millian
Firstly, I have to give the Ministry credit – the office acknowledges and agrees with the shortcomings addressed in the Auditor General Report and has a list of good action items to follow suit on, within a respectable two-year period.
The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) looks forward in continuing to be to be an active player at the table. We’ve been working with the Ontario Trucking Association, Government and other stakeholders to develop the plan, Supporting Ontario’s Trucking Industry.
The plan consists of a series of initiatives, listed and categorized by three specific timelines – what can be implemented in six months, 12-18 months and 24 months.
In six months, we want to implement a point value system that will apply more points for high-risk accident factors, such as tailgating, speeding, and running a stop sign or light. These types of incidents are shown to indicate a higher likelihood of accidents in the future. Applying higher point values to the Carrier for these incidents will encourage them to ensure they monitor and work with their drivers for continuous improvement and, if they don’t, will put them on the MTO’s radar for interventions.
In 12-18 months, we’ll be reviewing the spring thaw weight restrictions, inspections and the monitoring of Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT), along with photo radar at construction sites. To ensure compliance, more vehicles need to be targeted and inspected, specifically problem carriers. We need to insure that inspections are in‑depth, and consistent and focus on unsafe unfit vehicles. Meanwhile, some schools that offer the MELT program are simply filling seats, abusing advanced standing to by-pass teaching the full MELT program, and not ensuring consistency in the standardized training. We want to see advanced standing shut down as soon as possible, to eliminate this abuse, and to see a more inclusive approach of monitoring of compliance in general taken when it comes to auditing schools. We would also like the government to revisit having photo radar in select construction zones. This is a huge issue that should be addressed sooner. The PMTC would actually like to see photo radar introduced province-wide but a good starting point is construction zones on the 400 series highways, where speed in these zones is a known and major safety issue.
In 24 months, the Government needs to observe the fact that carriers are not being audited. To resolve this issue, we believe the government, with help from our industry, should bring a third party auditor program in place to manage that area. Another big piece is recognizing and investing in advances in technology that can help both drivers and auditors.
We (collectively) have a lot to get done - in a reasonable amount of time - but the key thing to recognize is that there is never an end date when it comes to these issues. Our Supporting Ontario’s Trucking Industry plan has to be a living document that is constantly being reviewed and built on. It’s time to put our commitments into action – in Ontario and across Canada.