A recent news item regarding cellphone use in CMVs has caught the attention of many carriers and trucking insurance insiders. On August 21st of 2014, a Saskatoon CMV driver was caught talking on his cellphone while on the job and he was pulled over. Subsequently, the company’s truck was impounded and held for seven days. This greatly impeded the small company’s ability to do business and cost them thousands in lost revenue. While the new laws are somewhat controversial, they state that a vehicle will be impounded for a week, regardless of who owns it.
Saskatchewan is taking a hardline approach to dealing with distracted driving and road safety, especially for commercial vehicle operators. Is this what we can expect here in Ontario in the near future? What is the risk to drivers who cross through other provinces? And what can we do to minimize risk and premiums?
Why is Distraction Such a Trucking Insurance Issue?
Distracted driving increases safety-critical events (crash, lane deviation) by 23.2 times, according to the FMCSA. If you are unclear about the regulations and the accurate definition of banned devices as well as who is exempt, refer to the Ontario Government Highway Traffic Act. This paper also details the difference between wireless communication devices and handheld units (such as CB radios.) It also describes what is acceptable to use in a commercial vehicle. This information should be made readily available to drivers and figure prominently in the training process. As the laws and penalties change frequently, update your drivers about the rules both in Ontario and across the country.
The Future for Ontario CMV Drivers
While Ontario doesn’t punish drivers in this way, the province is looking to increase fines up to $1000. The Ministry of Transportation has set fines that were imposed on Feb. 1 of 2010 and are currently being re-examined. But because the laws concerning cellphone use are relatively new, there is always the possibility that Ontario can introduce penalties we’re now seeing in Saskatchewan. Regardless of what governmental regulations say, being clear with drivers about the dangers of distracted driving is essential risk aversion planning.
Understand the Rules Across all Borders
Whether your fleet crosses into other provinces or across the US border, it’s essential to discuss your risk management plan with your trucking insurance broker. Every area and territory can have its own particular regulations and present unique issues to commercial drivers. Do you agree or disagree withy with the idea of impounding a company vehicle due to a driver’s personal error in judgment? Either way, there is simply too much risk to ignore the possibility that Ontario may introduce similar levels of punishment.