British Columbia’s auditor general says heavy commercial vehicles are involved in 19 per cent of the fatal collisions in the province, even though they make up only three per cent of the registered vehicles.
An audit conducted by Carol Bellringer‘s office found that in a majority of the fatal collisions involving a heavy commercial vehicle, the commercial driver was not at fault. One of the key recommendations released in the auditor’s report is that the provincial government needs to establish clear responsibilities for the promotion of commercial vehicle road safety education and awareness.
“The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and ICBC have commercial vehicle safety programs in place that prevent crashes and save lives, but much more needs to be done to ensure British Columbia’s roads are safe,” Bellringer said.
Another of Bellringer’s conclusions is that all drivers need to be more aware of commercial vehicles when using the roads. Those vehicles include dump trucks, container trucks and semi-trailers.
On average, about 300 people per year have died in motor vehicle incidents over the past 10 years. The government’s stated goal is zero fatal collisions.
The auditor general is also recommending that government review the standards for commercial driver licensing. Currently, drivers are not required to take driver training to get their commercial licence.
“It has recently started to address this issue,” Bellringer said. “Europe has had mandatory training for commercial drivers for a decade; Ontario brought it in last year. The United States is phasing it in over three years.”
The B.C. government also does not have a clear and effective system to hold licensed private inspection facilities accountable for complying with commercial vehicle safety standards. The report recommends the government change that.
Bellringer is also concerned that the government has not analyzed the data it has to know if its commercial vehicle safety programs are effective.
“As part of our audit, we identified a model that assesses the impact of roadside inspection and enforcement activities on commercial vehicle safety. We adapted the model for use in B.C., then used it to analyze the data collected by the B.C. government,” Bellringer said.
“Over the past three years, roadside inspection and enforcement activities with commercial vehicles in B.C. prevented an estimated 1,100 crashes, including four fatalities and more than 260 injuries. Government should use this type of data analysis to set clear targets and allocate resources efficiently to meet its targets.”