Tracking safety ratings for commercial vehicles

By Staff

In the final instalment of a two-part series on the Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR), Toronto licensing and compliance lawyer Anar Dewshi discusses the merits of voluntary safety programs and how to set them up.

Trucking and bus companies should regularly check their safety rating, says Toronto licensing and compliance lawyer Anar Dewshi.

In part one of this series, Dewshi, principal of Dewshi Law Practice, explained that Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation requires operators to carry a copy of their Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) certificate in each of their vehicles.

Events recorded under the system are used to award operators one of five possible safety ratings: Excellent, Satisfactory, Satisfactory-Unaudited, Conditional or Unsatisfactory.

This is then reported with certain other information in a document known as a CVOR Abstract, which is publicly available.

“We recommend that companies review their CVOR Abstract on a regular basis — once every three months, or immediately after an inspection, collision or conviction, since these will affect their safety rating,” Dewshi tells

In addition, she says operators would be well-advised to create and implement their own safety programs, with a focus on driver education and accident prevention.

“There is no legislative requirement to develop or maintain a safety program for your trucking company, but it allows you to demonstrate that you understand your legal responsibilities,” Dewshi says.

According to Dewshi, the facets of a strong safety program include:

  • Information about speed limits, seatbelt use, drug and alcohol use, defensive driving, fatigue management, load security, and fuelling
  • Proper records and recording of information, including bills of lading, manifests, dangerous-goods documents, time records, drivers’ daily logs, daily inspection reports and weigh slips
  • Instructions for the use of safety equipment issued, including the use of flags and flares, fire extinguishers, goggles, and hard hats
  • Training for employees about safety laws and their application
  • An ongoing program for evaluating employees’ driving skills
  • Retention of complete records for each driver
  • Policies for ensuring that drivers are properly qualified for the type of vehicle they operate.

“The safety program ought to include all aspects of the operator’s legislative responsibilities,” she says.

Driver conduct is a key responsibility for operators, Dewshi adds, suggesting operators maintain records of their licensing, application and employment histories.

Safety performance should be monitored, and any issues identified dealt with promptly, she says, highlighting a recent case that should serve as a cautionary tale to all commercial vehicle operators.

CBC News reports that a driver’s 30-year-old traffic violation cost him and his company a week’s work after his licence was suspended for non-payment of a ticket for going through a stop sign. The driver was unable to get back on the road while waiting for the reinstatement process to run its course, which takes five working days.

“It is imperative that operators review their employee’s complete driver’s record to ensure that there are no impending traffic violations or outstanding fines as this can lead to licence suspension,” Dewshi says.

She says policies created as part of an operator’s safety program should emphasize drivers’ duty to comply with both the law and company procedures dealing with training and expected conduct.

In terms of the mechanical safety of vehicles, Dewshi says operators should ensure they are kept in good condition at all times, assisted by internal inspections occurring at least once annually.

Operators’ safety programs should also include a record-keeping and recall system to ensure that:

  • Management is aware of all critical items that affect the company, so they can respond to problems as they arise.
  • Proper documentation of key events, such as training, incidents, collisions, and convictions.
  • Recall systems are set up for items such as annual inspections, expiry dates for drivers’ licences, drivers’ abstracts and schedules.
  • Records are kept regarding vehicle repairs, distance travelled per year, annual inspection reports, and other similar issues.

“These systems will ensure that the operator is always aware of what is being legislatively required of them on a day-to-day basis,” Dewshi says. “Most importantly, the safety program will demonstrate to the ministry, the Licence Appeal Tribunal, and the courts that the operator is aware of their legislative requirements, and has implemented methods, processes and policies to ensure compliance.

“In short, they have done their due diligence and everything that is reasonably possible to prevent a violation or incident,” she adds.

Click here to read part one where Dewshi lays out the requirements for compliance.

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