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Ontario Mandates 20% Inspection Failure Rate

By Rolf Lockwood with files from Jason Rhyno

TORONTO — Quotas do exist in the enforcement community.

Internal Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) documents obtained by Today's Trucking reveal what many in the trucking industry have long suspected regarding 'quotas' for truck inspectors. At the same time they raise questions about the legitimacy of published out-of-service rates. And about the effect they have on the public's perception of the trucking industry.

While the word 'quota' is never used, a document entitled 'TEO2 2013 Performance Expectations' outlines performance standards, the specific numbers and percentages that MTO truck inspectors are instructed to reach:

"A minimum of 60% of available time inspecting CMVs [commercial motor vehicles];

"This must equal a minimum of 600 level 1, 2 or 5 inspections;

"Of which 120 must be level 1;

"A minimum 20% OOS [out of service] rate on level 1 & 2 inspections combined;

"A minimum charge rate of 20% (i.e. at least 20% of all inspections have 1 or more charges);

"A reasonable balance of inspections based on axle counts as determined by each district's CMV makeup."

In a second document — an e-mail sent to undisclosed recipients — the author reiterates the above expectations, then reminds the recipients that "the charge rate and OOS rate are also being monitored […] Please work towards these goals. That may mean for some of you less inspections but more quality inspections. Basically do what you have to do to meet those numbers."

Asked for comment on the issue, MTO spokesperson Bob Nichols said that, "In order to ensure consistency and integrity within the Enforcement Program, a 20% charge rate expectation has been set for Transportation Enforcement Officers. The 20% rate is consistent with what has historically been the Enforcement Program charge rate since 1990."

Which begs the question if it is even possible for the trucking industry to attain compliance better than 80%. Clearly, it's not.

"If such a quota system exists (and I have no doubt it does — in every arm of the enforcement industry), then it is virtually impossible for us to achieve any better than an 80% compliance rate, except by accident when they fail to meet their quota, which undoubtedly has a concomitant impact on the commercial insurance industry, public perception of truckers, etc.," says Greg Swain, a veteran driver and former driver trainer. Nowadays he pulls B-train fuel tankers around southern Ontario.

"Most insidious of all," he adds, "is how such a government sponsored revenue-generating... enforcement system makes a mockery of the government published statistics that paint the transportation industry in such a publicly negative light."

Critics, Today's Trucking included, have long contended that published out-of-service rates do not reflect with any accuracy the mechanical condition of trucks on the road or, more to the point, the extent to which they're unsafe. Minor infractions — especially those involving brake adjustment — can take trucks off the road when they're not in fact unsafe at all and when a simple roadside fix is readily done.

Long-time safety and training consultant Ken Hellawell, operating under the ProTrans banner but now mostly retired, suggests that many of the Ministry's truck inspectors don't have sufficient expertise to check brakes properly in the first place.

And as for an arbitrary 20% failure rate, Hellawell says, "To me it sounds like too much."

We'll pursue this issue further in the days and weeks ahead, including more detailed coverage in Today's Trucking magazine.

Email Editor

Brake adjustments is a MINOR infraction now is it??? When a vehicle is placed out of service the tractor or trailer or combination of both would require 20% of the brakes out of adjustment. 20% brakes out of adjustment is by no means a minor infraction. Truckers need to stay on top of their maintenence-bottom line. Take a drive down the 401 on any given day, you will see accidents at least 1 accident involving a truck. Like any for profit industry, how do you measure your achievments?... Through stats and numbers. You want these Officers earning your hard earned tax dollars with no direction on what key results to achieve? Your call....these Officers make a difference and if its by enforcing "quotas", so be it.

Whoa seems someone needs to take a prozac!! 20% does not mean fail brakes on one unit as a whole!! It means they need to pull in that many from their rolling units over their scale area to inspect for faults and record them as such. The way it is written in the report, the unit may travel if the brakes are slightly out of adjustment. This means the truck and trailer would require it to use more air than normal to make a general stop. The vehicle is not unsafe, just a bit off and can be brought back into safe standards by a driver under a written warning by an DOT officer. Any vehicle with 20% of it's brakes screwed would be failed and need to be certified by a mechanic before road worthy. Hope this helps you understand before the pills kick in... Driver safe around those big trucks!!!

Now we know why we get Hassled for no reason makes sense they need to make money or they will lose ther jobs

Trucks may be involved in accidents, however do you follow up to validate if the truck was the at fault party? Probably not, you just see a big bad truck involved in an accident. I wonder if all the passenger vehicles were subject to the same stringent rules of inspection and enforcement, would have more room on the 401 during rush hour? Imagine everyone had to inspect their vehicles before taking to the road, and hold that vehicle and driver to a standard that is arbitrary. Considering most people can't even clear the snow of their lights and license plates I would have to beleive there would be public outcry. My advice......if you feel that unsure of a trucks mechanical fitness, don't cut him off because expectation is he will only have 80% braking power anyways.

I wonder what our big brothers at the OTA will have to say about this? Mr Bradley???
Hide your 5th wheel pullers guys...hang them through your deck plate without a strap on them, and there is an easy OOS for "insecure load". and watch the securing chain on your spare tire too!

Looks like we have some DOT people doing some damage control!! The article says there must be a 20% infraction rate. So as to say right lots of tickets people. I could write a whole letter on what the stats to keep your rating as an officer are but it looks like that's going to come out now.

NOW is anyone going to do anything about this CORRUPTION? DID YOU WRITE OR CALL YOUR MLA OR MP? If this directive that 20% of you are guilty does not mobilize you to do something you are defintely sheep!!!

Thank you writing this Rolf and making it public.

help me understand why a mto officer can take your plates leave you standing on the road when you have more than 2 inch free play and you have anew sreering box installed and there is still more than 2in what in hell do ni do now scrap my truck

Please send me copies of the memos to which you refer in your article. I will follow up with the Minister of Transportation.

Frank Klees, MPP
PC Transportation Critic