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Industry Issues: Modernizing CVOR is long overdue

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation and industry have embarked on a process of modernizing the Commercial Vehicle Operators Registration (CVOR) system. A joint MTO-Industry working group will make...

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation and industry have embarked on a process of modernizing the Commercial Vehicle Operators Registration (CVOR) system. A joint MTO-Industry working group will make recommendations to the minister by September 2005.

In OTA’s view this is long overdue. Not since Target ’97 has the program undergone sufficient review. Although the fundamental principles and structure of CVOR are sound, OTA has strong concerns over many aspects of the current system which must be corrected if CVOR is to improve road safety. The system must, for example:

* Enable MTO to more effectively/efficiently allocate scarce enforcement resources (roadside and audit) where they are most needed;

* Be accurate and up to date at all times;

* Control the level of discretion of enforcement officers;

* Ensure a level competitive playing field;

* Strike an appropriate balance between carrier and driver responsibility;

* Provide carriers with information on the safety and compliance performance of drivers

* Hold carriers responsible for the actions of sub-contractors.

Among the changes to the current CVOR system that OTA is seeking are:

* While OTA supports the principle of a single public data base that records a carrier’s activities, the public record should not contain events for which the carrier was blameless. For example, details of accidents which could not have been prevented by the company or its drivers should not be included.

* The assignment of some numerical values to certain events and activities that appear on a CVOR record, such as accidents – values should not be assigned based on the outcome of an accident, but rather on whether the accident could have been prevented – and convictions such as hours of service violations needs to be changed.

* The benchmarks being used in the CVOR system (the so called thresholds) were developed from a theoretical model and have never been verified using current real data. This needs to be done.

* The ultimate measure of a carrier’s safety performance is its accident performance, so accidents should receive more weighting in the overall safety performance algorithm.

* Use of the CVOR record for various enforcement/intervention actions is not being applied fairly. For example, some carriers with unsatisfactory CVOR records are not being audited, while other carriers with satisfactory CVOR records are being audited. Quarterly statements showing a variety of statistics related to the use of the CVOR records – e.g., the number of carriers being audited together with their fleet sizes and CVOR performance, the number of carriers with unsatisfactory CVOR performance that have not been audited – should be published

* The CVOR record is one of several criteria that are being used to determine whether an audit should be conducted. It should be the predominant means of selecting carriers for audit and a certain percentage (at least 80 per cent) of carriers that are audited must be selected by the CVOR system. Carriers with similar CVOR records must be treated equally.

* Information generated by the system with respect to an individual driver’s safety record is extremely valuable to employers in evaluating a driver’s suitability to be hired. Complete information about a driver’s accident record must continue to be available.

* Drivers often complain that the CVOR record does not always accurately reflect performance. A system should be developed so a driver could appeal the information contained on the system

To be successful the MTO-Industry Working Group will have to take a number of decisions, among them:

* Decide how the level of fleet activity should be measured – fleet size, mileage, or a combination of fleet size and mileage;

* Determine what events should be included on the CVOR record – e.g., all accidents or just accidents which were preventable; all inspections or just Level 3 inspections;

* Determine what events should be shown on the public record;

* Determine what benchmarks (thresholds) should be used;

* Decide how accidents, inspections and convictions should be combined to provide an overall performance;

* Decide how the overall performance should be used to calculate a Safety Rating.

– David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

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