Unsafe commercial vehicles are all over Ontario’s highways due to shortcomings in the transportation ministry’s inspection programs, the province’s auditor general reported Wednesday.
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk revealed that the ministry had not inspected any commercial vehicles belonging to more than half of Ontario’s 60,000 road transportation companies over the past two years.
The number of roadside inspections in Ontario dropped 22 per cent from 2014 to 2018, according to the auditor’s report, even though the number of large trucks was on the rise.
“The ministry missed the opportunity to remove thousands of unsafe commercial vehicles and drivers from Ontario roads,” says the report.
The audit into the province’s commercial vehicle safety systems was one of 18 government programs that Lysyk reviewed in her annual report tabled Wednesday in the Legislature.
The audit points out that Ontario’s annual rates of injuries and deaths in road accidents involving commercial vehicles have typically been higher than in other provinces and the U.S. over the past decade. Crashes involving large trucks and buses resulted in 1,180 deaths and 44,000 injuries between 2008 and 2017, said the auditor.
Drivers not subject to mandatory drug and alcohol testing
Some commercial vehicle companies have ministry approval to issue commercial licences to their own drivers. Drivers tested by those companies have a 95 per cent pass rate, compared with a 69 per cent pass rate at ministry-operated DriveTest centres.
Ministry inspectors are also failing to target the commercial vehicle operators with the worst safety records, the auditor said.
No inspections were carried out in the past two years on nearly 20 per cent of the companies with the highest rates of collisions and highway traffic violations.
Lysyk also questions why commercial drivers are not subject to mandatory drug and alcohol testing. The report found 244 crashes on Ontario roads involving commercial drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.