In accordance with the Auditor General Act, the British Columbia auditor general recently published “An Independent Audit of Commercial Vehicle Safety” report. The audit focused primarily on heavy commercial vehicles rather than taxis, limousines and emergency vehicles.
In her opening comments, Auditor General Carol Bellringer said that trucks represent only 3 percent of registered vehicles in the province but account for 19 percent of the fatal collisions. However, Bellringer was not quick to put blame on the truckers.
“In the majority of those fatal collisions, the commercial driver is not at fault,” Bellringer wrote in her comments. “All road users have a responsibility for safety around commercial vehicles.”
Regarding licensing, the audit found that the government could not determine if commercial licensing standards are adequate. However, the government has begun looking into the issue. Comparing the province’s standards to Europe and the U.S., the audit points out that specialized training is not required to obtain a commercial license in British Columbia.
The audit notes that safety education and awareness programs that focus on safe driving in and around commercial vehicles can prevent crashes, but that none of the existing programs in the province have “the budget or authority for overall responsibility.” The report recommends the provincial government “establish clear responsibility for the promotion of commercial vehicle road safety education and awareness.”
“In fatal collisions between passenger vehicles and trucks, research has shown that the driver of the passenger vehicle is more often at fault than the truck driver,” the report states. “In nonfatal collisions, research suggests truck drivers are equally at fault. Therefore, drivers of both passenger and commercial vehicles need education on driving safely in and around trucks.”
As far as inspections go, the audit was more confident in the government’s licensed private inspection facilities. One point of concern is that the Ministry of Transportation does not have a system set up to hold those facilities accountable when they do not follow the rules.
According to the audit, commercial vehicle safety programs in the province prevented approximately 1,100 crashes, including four fatalities and more than 260 injuries, saving $130 million in costs. Cost savings include lost working days, medical costs and $18 million in insurance costs.
The audit states that while the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General all have safety programs that prevent crashes and save lives, more needs to be done to further ensure road safety in British Columbia.