The Ministry of Transportation posted in the Regulatory Registry plans to review the current definition of a road-building machine (RBM) under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA).
As the Ontario Trucking Association pointed out for several years, RBMs – many of which use the roadway system alongside traditional tractor-trailers for commercial purposes – are exempted from many obligations under the HTA and other legislation that relies on the HTA for vehicle classifications.
OTA was successful in working the with Ontario government, which included a measure in this year’s provincial budget to close the loophole.
As MTO explains in its Registry proposal, RBMs were originally defined in the HTA in 1949 as a self-propelled vehicles designed and used primarily in connection with the building or maintaining of highways. The original intent for excluding RBMs from the definitions of motor vehicles was because at the time they were not manufactured to meet federal manufacturing safety standards for vehicles operating on a highway (e.g. tires, lights).
Their exclusion from certain HTA requirements was considered reasonable at the time, says MTO, because they operated at low speeds on the roadway/shoulder during highway construction or maintenance.
Over the years, however, the types of vehicles taking advantage of the exemption has broadened to include vehicles built on truck chassis which are not used exclusively for road building (such as hydrovac trucks, water tank trucks, concrete pumpers, mobile cranes and other utility and heavy application trucks that use the roadway system extensively) . As a result, the operators of these vehicles have escaped paying for permits and licence plates, commercial vehicle registration fees, Drive Clean, provincial fuel taxes and insurance. They have also been able to avoid safety inspections, CVOR and speed limiter requirements.
MTO is now committed to reviewing the legislation and potentially creating a new definition that clearly distinguishes between what are traditional types of road-building machines purpose built to operate only on construction and maintenance rights of way and those that are built on truck chassis and able to operate at highway speeds, meet federal manufacturing safety standards for vehicles and are for multi-purpose use.
The Ministry is looking for public feedback and submissions for what the definition of RBM should be amended to.
OTA is pleased the government is acting on its budget commitment and will begin working on its submission recommendations to MTO.