Commercial vehicle safety requirements

Ontario takes road safety very seriously and uses a variety of methods to make sure all road users can get themselves and their goods to their intended destination safely. Learn more about the safety requirements for commercial motor vehicles operating in Ontario.

Commercial vehicle safety

A commercial motor vehicle is:

  • a truck or highway tractor with a gross weight or registered gross weight of more than 4,500 kilograms (kg)
    OR
  • a bus with a seating capacity for ten or more passengers

Compliance with commercial vehicle regulations is enforced on-road by Ministry of Transportation enforcement officers and police officers, as well as through facility audits.

Ministry officers and police conduct inspections on commercial vehicles to make sure they are being operated safely by qualified drivers. Where a commercial motor vehicle or trailer is found to be in such an unsafe condition that it endangers other people on the highway, the vehicle may be prohibited from operating until required repairs are made.

Commercial vehicle drivers and companies that fail to comply with many of these requirements may be fined up to $20,000.

Commercial motor vehicle impoundment program

Under Ontario’s commercial motor vehicle impoundment program, critically defective commercial vehicles are impounded for a minimum of 15 days.  If one or more critical defects are found on a bus, truck or trailer, an officer will remove the plates and inspection stickers from the vehicle and impound it.

Wheel separation

Wheel separation involving commercial motor vehicles is closely monitored and action is taken when operators are involved in these serious offences. The following measures have been introduced to reduce wheel separation or wheel-offs for commercial vehicles:

  • daily inspection requirements for drivers and operators
  • an absolute liability law for wheel separations
  • specialized training for technicians involved with wheel installations
  • increased on-road inspections from ministry enforcement officers and specially trained police officers
  • fines for wheel separations ranging from $2,000-$50,000

Truck speed limiters

By law, most large trucks driven in Ontario and Quebec are required to use electronic speed limiters that cap their speed at 105 km/h. This applies to commercial motor vehicles that:

  • were built after December 31, 1994
  • are equipped with an electronic control module
    AND
  • have a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of 11,794 kg or more.

Exemptions apply only to a limited number of vehicle types, such as ambulances or fire trucks.

Commercial Vehicle Operator's Safety Manual, Module 5 – Ontario-Specific Enforcement Issues

Safety inspections

Periodic inspections are required for commercial motor vehicles, trailers and converter dollies. These inspections help reduce collisions caused by mechanical defects and improve highway safety throughout Canada.

There are three safety inspections:

  1. annual
  2. semi-annual
  3. safety standard certificates

The annual and semi-annual inspection requirements are the minimum requirement under the law. You may find that additional inspections and maintenance are required to properly maintain your vehicle's on-road standards.

Inspection criteria

Ontario, along with most Canadian provinces and territories, has adopted the National Safety Code 11, Part B, Periodic Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspections (NSC 11B) as the inspection criteria for annual, semi-annual and safety standards certificate inspections for commercial vehicles, school-purposes vehicles and accessible vehicles.

The Highway Traffic Act Regulation 611 contains the requirements for these inspections, along with modifications to the NSC 11B (schedules 3).

Annual, semi-annual and safety standards certificate inspections must be completed by a licensed motor vehicle inspection mechanic at an MTO-licensed inspection station

Safety standards certificates inspection

Safety standards certificates are required for:

  • registering a rebuilt motor vehicle
  • transferring a used motor vehicle to a new owner as fit
  • registering a motor vehicle in Ontario that was previously registered in another province or country
  • changing the status of a vehicle from unfit to fit

If a vehicle meets all of the requirements of a safety standards certificate inspection, the certificate is issued and the vehicle is deemed fit.

Annual and semi-annual inspections

An annual inspection is valid for 12 months.

Trucks, trailers and converter dollies, alone or in combination, with a total gross weight, registered gross weight or manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of more than 4,500 kg require an annual inspection.

  • Total gross weight: the weight transmitted to the highway by the truck and/or trailer - includes the driver, passenger, fuel, equipment, tools, cargo, etc. carried by the truck and/or trailer
  • Registered gross weight (RGW): the maximum weight based on the fees paid for the truck licence plates - indicated in kilograms on the right (plate) portion of a truck's ownership next to "REG. GROSS WT." (trailers and converter dollies do not have a RGW)
  • Manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (MGVWR): the maximum weight a truck is safely capable of weighing as declared by the manufacturer - indicated on the vehicle's vehicle identification number (VIN) plate

Buses, school-purposes vehicles used for transporting six or more persons, and accessible vehicles that require two inspections per year have different criteria:

  • an annual inspection can be completed every 6 months
    OR
  • an annual inspection can be followed by a semi-annual inspection 6 months later

Buses, school purpose vehicles used for transporting six or more persons and accessible vehicles require annual and semi-annual inspections.

  • A vehicle with a seating capacity for 10 or more passengers (not including the driver) is considered a bus. This can include large passenger vans, limousines as well as vehicles commonly known as a bus.

A bus with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of 4500 kg or less and used for personal use is exempt from the annual and semi-annual inspection requirement.

If a vehicle meets all the requirements of an annual or semi-annual inspection, a sticker is applied to the vehicle and a certificate and report are issued by the inspecting station.

What an inspection covers

The following components are thoroughly inspected to check that they comply with the National Safety Standard and applicable legislation:

  • power train
  • suspension hydraulic brake system
  • brakes
  • steering
  • instruments and auxiliary equipment
  • lamps
  • electrical system
  • body
  • tires and wheels
  • couplers and hitches

Failed inspections

If your vehicle doesn't pass an inspection, you will be required to repair it and have it re-inspected. You don't need to repair the vehicle at the facility you had it inspected at.

You can request a free re-inspection within 10 days if you return the repaired vehicle to the same inspection station. Extra charges may apply if you need to have the brakes re-inspected.

Daily (pre-trip) inspections

The purpose of the daily vehicle inspection is to ensure that problems and defects have been identified before the vehicle is operated on the highway. Inspections prevent the operation of a vehicle with problems that are likely to cause or contribute to the severity of an accident.

HTA Regulation 199/07 contain the requirements for daily (pre-trip or "circle check") inspections that must be completed within 24 hours before driving.

Vehicles that require daily inspections

  • trucks, trailers and converter dollies, on their own or in combination, with a total gross weight or registered gross weight of more than 4,500 kg
  • buses designed to transport 10 or more passengers, and any trailer towed by one of these vehicles
  • accessible buses modified to be used to transport persons with disabilities, if not being used for personal purposes only, and every trailer towed by one of these vehicles
  • school-purposes vehicles and buses operating under contract with a school board or other authority in charge of a school being used for the transportation of 6 or more children or adults with a developmental disability

How daily inspections work

  • the vehicle is inspected before it is driven
  • the inspection is conducted with the use of a schedule listing the vehicle components and systems that require inspection
  • an inspection report is completed
  • the inspection and report are valid for 24 hours
  • the driver carries the inspection schedule and report in the vehicle
  • the driver records on the report any defects found while en route and at the end of the trip or day
  • the driver reports defects to the operator at the time they are discovered - the operator must repair the defect immediately, or before the next dispatch, and keep records of repair

How to complete a daily inspection:

You may choose an inspection procedure (circle procedure or walk-around) that best suits your vehicle and its location. No matter which order of items you choose, you must inspect each item on the applicable inspection schedule.

You must record any defects you discover on the inspection report and notify the operator about them. You must carry and produce an inspection schedule based on your vehicle, as well as a corresponding valid inspection report.

  • if you find no defect on the vehicle, as defined in the inspection schedule, then "no defect" is recorded, and the inspection is valid for 24 hours.
  • if you find a "minor" defect on the vehicle, as defined in the inspection schedule, the defect must be recorded and reported to the operator as soon as possible. The operator is required to repair any defects that do not meet the performance standards. The inspection is valid for 24 hours.
  • If you find a major defect on the vehicle, as defined in the inspection schedule, the vehicle cannot be operated. You must record the defect, report it to the operator immediately, and the vehicle must be repaired prior to being driven.

If a defect as defined in the inspection schedule is identified after the inspection is completed, the defect must also be recorded and reported to the operator. Should the identified defect be a major defect, you must stop operating the vehicle until it is repaired.

Commercial Vehicle Operator's Safety Manual, Module 8: Preventative Maintenance, Record-Keeping and Vehicle Files

National Safety Code 11B

Hours of service

Ontario's hours-of-service regulation governs the maximum driving times and minimum off-duty times of commercial vehicle drivers (bus and truck) who require a Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration (CVOR). They are based on the National Safety Security Code Standard 9.

Drivers must:

  • keep records of their daily driving and other work activities in a set format
  • provide these records to enforcement officials upon request

The regulation contains three basic requirements:

Daily requirement

A driver:

  • must have 10 hours off-duty in a day
  • cannot drive more than 13 hours in a day
  • cannot drive after 14 hours on-duty in a day

Mandatory off-duty time

After a period of at least 8 hours off-duty, a driver cannot:

  • drive more than 13 hours
  • drive after having been on-duty for 14 hours
  • drive after 16 hours has elapsed

Cycle requirement

  • an operator shall designate a cycle for the driver to follow
  • in a period of 7 consecutive days, a driver cannot drive after having been on-duty for 70 hours
  • in a period of 14 consecutive days, a driver cannot drive after having been on-duty for 120 hours

Commercial Vehicle Operator's Safety Manual, Module 9: Hours of Service

Regulation on Hours of Service and NSC standard

Dangerous goods

The Ontario Dangerous Goods Transportation Act adopts the federal regulations made under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act to ensure consistency and harmonization across North America.

Generally speaking, most loads of dangerous goods being transported must meet 5 basic requirements:

  1. the load must be accompanied by a shipping document, which includes specific information including an emergency phone number
  2. the small containers must display the safety marks to ensure the safety of the people handling the products
  3. the vehicle may be required to display the safety marks to ensure the safety of first responders at an incident
  4. the driver must be a trained person or under the direct supervision of a trained person
  5. the dangerous goods must be transported in a "proper" container, which must be closed, secured and maintained so that, under normal conditions of transport, there will be no accidental release of dangerous goods that could endanger public safety

Commercial Vehicle Operator's Safety Manual, Module 10: Dangerous Goods

Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act

Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations

Cargo securement

Security of loads on vehicles is a matter of public safety, and is therefore subject to government regulation and a body of industry practice. Regulation 363/04 "Security of Loads" adopts Canada's National Safety Code 10 Cargo Securement published by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA). The standard is based on consultations with all provinces, territories and Transport Canada.

You must ensure a load does not fall or become dislodged from the vehicle.

Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Safety Manual, Module 14: Cargo Securement

Regulation 363/04 Security of Loads

National Safety Code Standard 10 Cargo Securement

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