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justice denied

The assigning of points against an operator's CVOR abstract following an accident is a "sticky" issue. It's difficult, regardless of the court outcome, to have points removed from the operator's CVOR...

The assigning of points against an operator’s CVOR abstract following an accident is a “sticky” issue. It’s difficult, regardless of the court outcome, to have points removed from the operator’s CVOR record, even where the charge is dismissed.

In accidents where the driver is not considered at fault, no charges laid and no driving impropriety, there are no CVOR points. But where the driver is charged with an offence, 2 CVOR points are assigned, ditto for one or more identified improprieties on the accident report. As for the type of accident, no points are assigned a property damage only event, but where there is a charge or an impropriety, an accident involving personal injury or a fatality attract 4 and 8 CVOR points respectively. So for example, where there is a personal injury event and the driver was charged with “follow too close” and was deemed “inattentive”, the record would show 8 CVOR points.

What is interesting is that where a driver is charged with an offence, but no conviction registered for whatever reason, the accident will not appear on his driver CVOR abstract. And for good reason. The argument is made that if there is no conviction registered it would be prejudicial to the driver to have such an event reflected on his or her record, making it more difficult for example to obtain employment. Good point and a valid one at that. But the same logic and consideration is not extended to operators.

Let’s look at an example. A driver falls asleep, runs off the road and is charged with careless driving. The accident involves personal injury. In most cases, before the matter even goes to Court, the operator will be hit with 8 CVOR points. (Personal injury 4; driver charged 2; driver impropriety 2)

When the matter is set for trial, the driver attends, and is informed that the charge is being withdrawn because the officer is not available, or for any number of technical reasons. Not only are there no driver demerit points as no conviction was registered, but the accident will not appear on his driver CVOR record. But they stubbornly remain on the operator’s CVOR. And in these circumstances, the possibility of them being removed on appeal are slim to none.

Whatever the logic, reasoning or justification regarding this disparity of treatment, it is one that should be addressed from the industry’s perspective in precisely the same manner as the Ministry addressed it because of driver concerns.

While we are on CVOR, there is a recent issue that has come up with respect to operator fleet size, specifically as it relates to “double shifting” of vehicles. The double shifting of one vehicle in fact translates to two vehicles. But there is some confusion here as it relates to two different definitions that the Ministry of Transportation uses meaning two very different ways to determine “double shifting”.

The first is from the Public Guideline they issue. It reads:

“A vehicle operated by two individual drivers, who have separate shifts consisting of a minimum of 8 consecutive hours each, in a 24-hour period on a regular basis. The carrier must have sufficient drivers and supporting logs/time records to qualify for double shift status.”

The second is found in the CVOR Application guide that is given to carriers in order to update their fleet information.

“Number of Double-Shifted CMVs. Indicate how many of the total commercial motor vehicles reported under column 36 are operated for two or more shifts of at least 8 hours each in a 24-hour period, on a regular basis.”

There are significant differences in these definitions. The first requires that the vehicle be operated by 2 drivers, with minimum 8-hour shifts each in a 24-hour period, and with a requirement for supporting evidence.

The second does not speak to a 2-driver requirement, only that the vehicle be operated for two or more shifts of 8 hours in a 24-hour period.

Both use the term “regular” which is open to wide interpretation. For the record, it is definition number two that I use, and the one that is the more official of the two, given that it is regularly mailed to carriers to obtain updated fleet sizes.

I have dealt with and advised dozens of carriers with respect to this issue and what their fleet size should be. And indeed there are many, where according to this definition, double shifting is undertaken on a regular basis by one driver who is on duty for 16 hours or more on a regular basis. In one case, regular means four days on and four days off. There would be the log records to prove it. And the bottom line is the operator now has two vehicles for CVOR purposes rather than one which is an obvious benefit.

Now according to definition number one, this would not be possible, as the vehicle is not operated by either team drivers or two different drivers in a 24-hour period.

So what I would ask: The vehicle is regularly operated over an 8-day period by two drivers, and the mileage is definitely as high as any team operation. And more importantly, to deny double-shifting status in a case like this would not make logical sense. I would suggest that all carriers take a hard look to determine whether their vehicles are in fact double-shifted. You may be surprised how many there are with a solo driver.

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