Ontario is moving to an OBD-based inspection program in an effort to put an end to fraudulent safety certificates and pull dangerous vehicles off the road
The new program is expected to be in effect for all vehicles – from motorcycles to heavy trucks – by July 1, 2021.
Jennifer Elliott of Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation addresses Ontario shop owners at the annual AARO symposium.
Jennifer Elliott, of Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, said the program will start this summer with medium- and heavy trucks as the province consolidate its safety inspections and emissions testing into a single program.
The decision to revamp the heavy duty programs followed a scathing report late last year from the province’s auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk, who said not enough was being done to ensure road safety, and get unsafe commercial vehicles and drivers off the roads.
Elliott was one of the speakers at an annual symposium run by the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) earlier this year. She told shop owners and technicians that a program governing emissions and safety inspections for light-duty vehicles will follow next year.
“We will be strengthening emissions testing, looking for emissions overrides, and strengthening enforcement,” she said. “And it will be digital. The province is making a real push to go digital.”
She said the new tablet-based program would go a long way to solving the problem of fake safeties, often sold by crooks in cash transactions.
“When we started talking about merging emissions testing with commercial safety inspections, we recognized an opportunity to go digital like our light-duty emissions program,” she said. “Our motor vehicle inspection standard program which has been in place since 1974, has not evolved at all. It is still a paper-based program, which has significant challenges. By going digital we’re going to be able to address some of those concerns.”
Starting next year, safety inspections on light vehicles that are imported into the province or are being sold will go directly to the Ministry of Transportation.
“It will mirror exactly what you did for light-vehicle emissions,” she said.
The new system will allow ministry officials to intervene in real time when it sees suspicious behaviour, asking the tester to confirm information or submit additional photographs.
Furthermore, if pattern failures are detected, the province will be in a better position to look for dangerous conditions on particular vehicles or press carmakers for recalls.
There are no plans to make safety inspections more frequent – something which many in the room objected to. But Elliott said this is a first step in making a case for more comprehensive testing.
“We are starting to collect data. And from that data, we will be able to make changes in the future,” she explained.
“This is a huge win for our industry,” said Toronto shop owner John Cochrane, a member of the AARO board of directors. “Everyone in this room would like to see mandatory inspections every year, because we see the unsafe vehicles. But we have to prove the data. The politicians want to see that data before they’ll approve anything.”
He said the move to electronic records is long overdue.
“We’ve been living in a paper society with paper records, and the data has gone nowhere,” he said. “Now we’re going to have data going to the Ministry and we can start to build a case for regular inspections.”