Report says oversight of Manitoba’s trucking industry inadequate

by Truck News-West

WINNIPEG, Man. – Manitoba’s Auditor General has concluded that provincial oversight of commercial vehicle safety is inadequate, including insufficient safety fitness program practices, management gaps for on-road inspections, and weak planning and performance measurements.

The less-than-glowing review was released today in a report that examined the adequacy of the Manitoba Department of Infrastructure’s oversight of commercial vehicle safety. The report examined the motor carrier safety fitness program, on-road commercial vehicle inspections, and strategic planning and performance management for the industry, covering the time period from April 2017 to August 2018.

“We know that this report will help the general public better understand the opportunities for improving commercial vehicle safety in Manitoba,” said Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) executive director Terry Shaw. “However, nothing in this report is news to us or Manitoba Infrastructure. The MTA has been requesting change on behalf of our industry for a long time – years, even decades. This report supports what we have been advocating for on behalf of our members. It will better inform the public about safety oversight of our industry, and that the will of an informed public will guide this government’s decision making.”

The report includes a total of 17 recommendations to help improve oversight of the industry and overall safety. Some of the key suggestions included:

• better assessment and promotion of new entrants’ safety fitness,
• strengthening checks for chameleon carriers,
• improved methodology to grade and assess operators’ safety performance,
• flag for follow-up those operators within the total population who pose the greatest safety risk to the public and are most in need of improvement,
• help poor-performing operators identify underlying safety management weaknesses and take appropriate corrective action,
• determine and document the likely underlying causes and corrective actions needed to address any identified non-compliance with safety regulations,
• require all operators flagged as poor performers to include reports on their progress in implementing action-plans for improvement when renewing their certificates,
• ensure all methods used to award operators “satisfactory” safety-fitness ratings are transparent, can be logically defended, and treat all operators with similar safety records consistently,
• seek greater clarity on its current practice of not requiring any U.S.-based carriers operating in Manitoba to be registered in Manitoba’s safety fitness program,
• stop registering commercial operators of heavy farm trucks in the safety fitness program without requiring them to obtain safety fitness certificates,
• improve the percentage of commercial truck traffic subject to inspection,
• adopt greater variability in its weigh station and patrol operating hours in order to make them less predictable.

“When you read through this report, you will see that the department agrees with every single recommendation provided by the Office of the Auditor General,” said MTA president John Erik Albrechtsen. “Some of these have been on our list since the early 2000s. What we question is why and how any of these items are still up for discussion? They should have been resolved years ago to improve road safety in Manitoba.”

With regards to the province’s insufficient Safety Fitness program, the report says no checks are being done on operators’ safety knowledge and practices when first issuing the certificate. And, follow-up practices are lacking when safety performance is poor and inadequately focused on risk and operator improvement.

Gaps in management of on-road inspections are seen because nearly 50% of truck traffic is occurring when major weigh scales are closed. The report also notes that most level 1 inspections are being done during a span of just five months, from May to September, and there is limited monitoring of officer performance and inspection results.

The Auditor General says there is weak planning and performance measurements because there are no measures to assess effectiveness of safety efforts, and planning needs to focus more on risks, data, and include Manitoba Public Insurance coordination.

“Regulations are only as good as the oversight associated with them,” said Shaw. “Opportunities for improvement have been confirmed by Manitoba’s Auditor General, so what our industry members want to know is when Manitoba Infrastructure actually plans to implement the recommendations agreed to in this report?”

Read the full report here: https://www.oag.mb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/AGM-Vehicle-Safety-Report-ENGLISH-FINAL.pdf.

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