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New federal safety regs effective January 1

OTTAWA, Ont. - Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Transport Act and changes to the Motor Carrier Safety Fitness Regulations are slated to come into effect across Canada Jan. 1, federal Transport Minister...


OTTAWA, Ont. – Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Transport Act and changes to the Motor Carrier Safety Fitness Regulations are slated to come into effect across Canada Jan. 1, federal Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre announced in June.

The legislative and regulatory changes aim to improve road safety for Canadians.

“Through these proposed amendments, we will be able to establish a common approach to safety ratings nationally so that safe motor carriers may compete on a level playing field across Canada and eventually across North

America,” said Lapierre. “This will help improve safety, reduce the risk of commercial vehicle collisions and promote a fair and competitive environment for safe carriers.”

Ratings audits, however, will be carried out by provincial officials, which has some carriers fearing that the “level playing field” being touted by the federal government is an empty promise.

The Motor Carrier Safety Fitness Certificate Regulations are based on National Safety Code Standard #14 – Safety Ratings. The National Safety Code is a comprehensive code of performance standards for the safe operation of commercial vehicles. The code applies to all aspects of commercial truck and bus operations including drivers, vehicles and operators.

The proposed regulations will permit the provinces and territories to monitor the safety performance of all extra-provincial motor carriers that operate in or through their jurisdiction. The safety ratings of carriers will be available to the public.

But the assignment of a rating, based on safety performance in areas such as vehicle maintenance, driver performance and accident record will be performed by officials from the carrier’s home province. The carrier will then receive a Safety Fitness Certificate, with one of the following four ratings: “satisfactory – unaudited”; “satisfactory”; “conditional” or “unsatisfactory”. A carrier whose safety performance deteriorates significantly could be prohibited from operating on Canadian roads.

But whether one province differs significantly from others when it comes to the rigour or frequency of its audits and enforcement, or even its resources to carry out such activities remains to be seen.

Transport Canada officials, for their part, believe the regulations will eventually have the desired “leveling” effect, simply because the federal government could revoke the power to issue ratings if a province is not meeting the standards.

“In the very worst case scenario – and I certainly don’t think it will ever come to this, the government could revoke the power to issue ratings,” said Ian Noy, director of Standards, Research and development for Transport Canada, who spoke at the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada annual conference and general meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, in June.

For more information on the National Safety Code, visit the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators Web site at www.ccmta.ca


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