Vehicle safety, maintenance and daily inspections
Ministry of Transportation inspection stations
The Ministry of Transportation monitors the condition of commercial motor vehicles operating in Ontario and, when necessary, takes corrective action. One method of accomplishing this task is through vehicle inspections, which can be performed by ministry enforcement staff or police officers. Ministry enforcement staff perform inspections at truck inspection stations.
Truck inspection stations are found at various highway locations in Ontario. Signs indicate whether or not a station is open. If a station is open, trucks must enter and stop for inspection.
Vehicles and loads are checked for weight, height, length, width and axle spacing. Driver licences are also checked for validity and proper class of licence for the vehicle.
All drivers of a commercial vehicle as defined in section 16(1) of the Highway Traffic Act should carry and surrender on demand the following documents:
- A valid driver’s licence of the appropriate class for the vehicle being operated
- The registration or a true copy for the truck and trailer (if any) being operated
- The CVOR certificate or true copy of the individual or company responsible for the driver, vehicle and its load
- An original insurance certificate for the vehicle being operated (vehicle-specific or a fleet policy)
- A daily inspection report that has been completed within 24 hours and a copy of the appropriate inspection schedule
- A daily log for the day and the previous fourteen days
- All supporting documents to the driver, including but not limited to fuel, bridge, toll and accommodation receipts
If a driver is directed to operate within a 160-km radius of where they start the day and return to the same location at the end of the day, they may be exempt from carrying a daily log, but will still be subject to all of the requirements for hours of service.
Vehicles are subject to safety checks (for example, of brakes, lights, couplings). In addition to permanent truck-inspection stations, mobile-inspection units may be set up for varying lengths of time at any location.
Any police officer or appointed ministry officer has the authority to perform a safety inspection at any time and any location. They may require you to drive to the nearest inspection station. If requested, you must assist in the inspection of the vehicle. Inspections may be done on a highway at any time.
If you refuse or fail to proceed to a weigh scale when requested, you are guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to $20,000 under section 124(5) of the HTA. You may also have your licence suspended for up to 30 days.
Drivers who refuse or fail to redistribute or remove part of a load, or make arrangements to do so, or obstruct a weighing, measuring or examination, are guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $200 to $20,000 under section 124(6) of the HTA.
Tires and wheels
Another important component of vehicle safety is tires and wheels. You must check the tires and wheels of your vehicle as part of the pre-trip inspection to ensure they meet safety standards. For example, you must check your tires to ensure they have appropriate tread depth; and check your wheels to ensure they are securely attached. The rear tire of a motor vehicle must not have less than 1.5 millimetres (0.06 in.) of tread measured in two adjacent tread grooves. The front tires of a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle rating of more than 4,500 kilograms must have at least 3 millimetres (0.12 in.) of tread measured in two adjacent tread grooves.
It is also a good safety practice to inspect the wheels, wheel fasteners and tires after having new tires or wheels installed, or if the wheels have been removed for repairs to other components. Wheel manufacturers recommend having wheel fasteners re-checked between 80 km and 160 km after installation. Wheels and tires must be installed by a certified tire installer or a mechanic.
Free play or lash in the steering system is the distance the steering wheel moves before the tires begin turning. Check with the engine on and the wheels straight ahead; turn the steering wheel in both directions with your fingers until you can feel the resistance of the tires. If the steering wheel rotates too far, there is excessive free play or lash in the steering system.
As the driver, you are responsible for making sure the cargo is evenly balanced and properly secured against shifting. Any cargo that breaks loose or shifts could cause a collision or vehicle rollover. All loads carried on a motor vehicle or trailer must be bound, covered or otherwise securely fastened or loaded such that no portion of the load can fall off the vehicle or trailer.
The Highway Traffic Act states that any load overhanging the rear of a vehicle by 1.5 metres (5 ft.) or more should be marked by a red light when lights are required (one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise or at other times of poor light conditions) and, at all other times, by a red flag or red marker.
Before driving with a load, you should know the type of cargo you are carrying and the required means of securing the load to the vehicle. Many commodities require safety devices for the driver such as protective bulkheads or special lading. Before starting any trip, check that doors are latched or that racks, tarps and other equipment are properly secured.
The vehicle’s cargo must be inspected to ensure it is secure before driving the vehicle. Re-check it not more than 80 km from the point where the cargo was loaded.
The driver shall re-inspect the vehicle’s cargo and the cargo securement systems, and make adjustments at intervals, based on whichever of the following occurs first:
- There is a change of duty status of the driver.
- The vehicle has been driven for three hours.
- The vehicle has been driven for 240 km.
Note: The driver is not required to inspect the load when the cargo is sealed in a vehicle and the driver has been ordered not to open it, or if the cargo is inaccessible.
Ontario has adopted National Safety Code (NSC) Standard 10 for Cargo Securement, developed and published by the Canadian Council for Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA). Standard 10 provides detailed instructions for operators and drivers to follow when securing different types of loads to commercial vehicles. Every commercial vehicle carrying cargo on Ontario’s roads must comply with the rules set out for cargo securement in this national standard. The standard was developed to increase both public safety and the safety of commercial vehicle drivers carrying loads. To read NSC Standard 10 for Cargo Securement, visit CCMTA's website. See also Ontario Regulation 363/04 "Security of Loads" in the Highway Traffic Act.
Annual inspection certificate
Operators are responsible for having each of their vehicles and trailers inspected each year by a licensed motor-vehicle inspection mechanic. The mechanic checks to ensure that the vehicle or trailer is in compliance with all of the inspection requirements contained in the appropriate standard of the National Safety Code 11, Part B. To read NSC standard 11 for Periodic Commercial Motor Vehicle Maintenance Inspections (PMVI) standards, visit CCMTA's website. This standard has been adopted through regulation under the Highway Traffic Act.
If the vehicle/trailer is in compliance with all requirements, the mechanic or another person authorized by the inspection station completes an annual inspection certificate and an annual inspection record. These documents come with a corresponding annual inspection sticker (decal), which indicates the vehicle type, as well as the month and year of the inspection. The mechanic or other authorized person places the decal on the outside lower left corner of the windshield or left side of the truck cab, or on the outside surface on the front left side of a trailer, semi-trailer or trailer converter dolly.
Drivers are also responsible for ensuring the vehicle they are driving is fit for highway use. As part of your daily inspection, check the date on the inspection-certificate decal on the vehicle and/or trailer to ensure that it is still valid.