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AG Report: It’s Beyond Me

Garbage in; garbage out is a well-worn phrase in IT circles to describe the effectiveness of decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

Garbage in; garbage out is a well-worn phrase in IT circles to describe the effectiveness of decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

And although it may seem harsh to apply this to Ontario’s Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) program, I can’t help but think that when you boil it down that’s the message delivered by the recent audit of the province’s monitoring and enforcement systems and procedures.

I worry that I’m being too hard on Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation because the province has managed to slash by 10% the collision rate for commercial vehicles between 1995 and 2004 despite the fact commercial vehicle traffic over this 10-year period actually increased by 32%.

That accomplishment can’t be ignored.

But how else to explain the serious faults the audit has found in the ministry’s CVOR system?

As you know, the ministry uses the CVOR system to track the operator safety records and be able to identify and deal with those, who for some reason or other, are taking unacceptable risks. These are the operators that give the entire industry a black eye and need to be dealt with.

But the audit found that the ministry is getting considerably less than a complete picture of the people operating commercial vehicles in the province.

Operators must register for one CVOR certificate that covers all the vehicles in their business.

They also currently register each of their commercial vehicles separately through the province’s Private Issuing Network offices, the same offices that register all other Ontario drivers and vehicles.

Yet the audit found that – inexplicably – there is no requirement for PIN staff to ensure that owners of commercial vehicles have valid CVOR certificates when they register their vehicles.

The audit found 1,600 cases where owners of commercial vehicles had registered their commercial vehicles with the ministry but did not have a CVOR certificate.

In fact, there is no ministry process for determining if the owner is actually operating a business and should have a CVOR certificate.

Of course, if a commercial vehicle is involved in an event, such as a collision, conviction or roadside inspection and the operator is found to not have a CVOR record, ministry staff will instruct the operator to register for one.

The audit found 20,600 such unregistered operators as of December 2007 yet noted that little follow-up is being done to make sure the operator actually bothers to follow through with the demand to register.

In fact of the 2,900 unregistered operators who had been charged between 2003 and 2007, 775 remained unregistered by the time of the audit.

How can a ministry whose stated objective is to reduce the commercial vehicle fatality rate by 20% by 2010 have allowed such glaring loopholes that jeopardize safety to exist? It’s beyond me.

– Lou Smyrlis can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6881 or by e-mail at

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