Easy Tickets

I was a guest speaker at a driver meeting recently in Windsor, Ontario. One of the other speakers was from the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). This officer works at the local scale facility.

During the presentation, the officer mentioned that tickets for Hours of Service offences have dropped since the implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELD’s). Drivers are committing fewer logbook errors and logbook falsification is significantly down.

Well, that got me thinking… I remember a presentation given to the Ontario Trucking Association many years ago by another officer. During the talk, the officer was asked if the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) officers had quotas. The answer was an emphatic NO! It was stated clearly that MTO officers don’t have quotas. But the presenter went on to say that MTO does have “Job Performance Expectations.”

Because officers do have “Job Performance Expectations” (which I will refer to as JBEs), that may mean that they are expected to perform specific duties with anticipated results. For example, during a period, an officer may be expected to perform a certain number of inspections. And if they complete the vehicle inspections, are they supposed to write a specific number of tickets? I would think that MTO has not been so bold as to put that into writing. But I would think that if an officer was not writing tickets in a quantity that is expected that they would likely be disciplined and their behaviour would be corrected.

So why should drivers and trucking companies care if the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) has “Job Performance Expectations?” Well, if officers are expected to write tickets and if they are not writing as many violations/tickets for Hours of Service violations, then what are they writing tickets for? I, of course, don’t know what they are writing tickets for, but this is what I suspect; officers are likely writing tickets for other items that I call “easy tickets.”

Some examples of “easy tickets” are: not having the instruction sheet for your ELD in the truck, not having a current schedule 1 in the vehicle, not having 15 blank paper log sheets with you or if the Portable ELD is not mounted in a fixed position and visible to the driver. I could add many more to this such as not having your current, original proof of insurance and not being able to show ownership or the annual safety, but I think you are getting the idea.

If officers do have JBEs, they may not want to conduct a Level 1 inspection, especially if the weather is terrible or you are hauling a load of livestock. They will look to write other tickets to fulfil their mandate. Please don’t give them the opportunity. Please conduct a thorough and complete Vehicle Inspection of your vehicle.

Many of the items mentioned above are not on the Schedule One. And you still need to make sure that they are in the truck. Another easy ticket is not showing enough time for your vehicle inspection. If you only show two or three minutes on your ELD for the vehicle inspection, the officer may become suspicious and ask, “how did you check all twenty-three items in just three minutes?” You, the driver, might answer in one of two ways: “Well, you know, I did it while the ELD system was downloading. That takes several minutes.” The second answer might be, “I just did it yesterday! Nobody does it every day!!!”

Both responses could result in a ticket – in the first situation you might receive a ticket because all vehicle inspections must be on-duty. So, the first response proves that you are falsifying your ELD. The second answer, of course, is in violation of the regulation stating that you must perform a vehicle inspection once every twenty-four hours. So, either way, you might get a ticket or violation.

In summary, Drivers, please complete your vehicle inspections. Think about the items that I mentioned (and perhaps did not mention) that are not on the Schedule One and make sure that they are in your truck. Fleets, please encourage your drivers to conduct a complete vehicle inspection and review your ELDs to ensure that the drivers are allowing enough time for the examinations.

Be safe and ticket free!

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.