The Manitoba government has introduced amendments to the Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Heavy Vehicle Safety), that would enhance road safety for all Manitobans by targeting unsafe commercial motor carriers while ensuring a level playing field for ethical operators with a strong culture of safety, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk announced March 8, 2023.
“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s highest priority is safety on Manitoba’s roadways,” said Piwniuk. “We are continuing to take concrete actions to address the recommendations of the Office of the Auditor General’s 2019 report into the oversight of commercial vehicle safety. Ensuring the safety of Manitoba’s commercial motor carriers improves safety for all Manitobans.”
The proposed legislation would strengthen authority to keep “chameleon carriers” off roads. Chameleon carriers are motor-carrier businesses that choose to close and later reopen under a new name to avoid addressing safety issues. The amendments specifically target unsafe carriers and will have minimal impact on carriers that comply with safety regulations and have satisfactory on-road performance.
In 2022, the Manitoba government updated its safety rating framework for motor carriers to align with specifications of National Safety Code 14 and introduced stronger provisions for safety fitness certificate renewals. Further updates to the Safety Fitness Criteria and Certificates Regulation have strengthened safety requirements for Manitoba-based commercial motor carriers. New carriers must identify a certified compliance officer and submit a safety plan before being issued a safety fitness certificate. Existing carriers with a “conditional” safety rating must certify a compliance officer within 180 days.
The amendment would allow the department to initially assign a “conditional” safety rating to suspected chameleon carriers, Piwniuk noted, adding that to ensure fairness for operators, changes also include provisions for appealing decisions to the Licence Suspension Appeal Board.