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Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles

The transport of people and goods is a key sector of Québec’s economy and is directly responsible for close to 78,000 jobs. In terms of tonnage, more than half of Québec’s goods are transported by road. Meanwhile, passengers take some 650 million trips by bus each year.

As this industry uses the public road network for its activities, sharing the space with all road users, the government of Québec adopted the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles in 1998 to better regulate these activities.

The aim of the Act is to improve safety on roads open to public vehicular traffic and to preserve the integrity of those roads. To this effect, it provides mechanisms for identifying the owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles whose conduct appears to pose a risk, in order to take appropriate action. These include a safety rating system for companies that transport people and goods by road.

All Canadian jurisdictions have similar rating systems for monitoring the conduct of heavy vehicle users. These systems contribute to the harmonization of regulations governing the use of heavy vehicles across Canada.

Normative framework

The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles establishes the rules that apply specifically to owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles. As such, the Regulation respecting the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles sets out:

  • the various exemptions provided for by the Act;
  • the way to identify a heavy vehicle operator;
  • the fees associated with enrolment on the Register of owners and operators of heavy vehicles (HVOO Register), available via the website of the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ).

Although the Ministry is responsible for the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles, the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) and the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) are responsible for implementing and applying the mechanisms.

Mechanisms provided for in the Act

The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles sets out three main mechanisms for monitoring the conduct of owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles.

Entry mechanism

To operate a heavy vehicle on the road, a natural or legal person must—unless in the case of an exception—be enrolled on the Register of owners and operators of heavy vehicles (HVOO Register). This Register is available on the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) website. Registration confers the right to use a heavy vehicle or to put one into operation on Québec’s road network.

It is possible to register as an owner, an operator or both.

When the CTQ accepts the registration of a natural or legal person, it assigns this person a Register Identification Number (RIN) and a safety rating of “satisfactory” with the notation “unaudited” or a safety rating of “conditional.”

The CTQ ensures that the conditions for putting into operation or operating a heavy vehicle have been met. Upon their entry onto the transport market, the CTQ informs registered users of the standards and obligations they must meet as well as the sanctions they will face if they do not comply.

Furthermore, the CTQ informs the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) of every new enrolment on the Register in order to activate the monitoring mechanism.

Drivers of heavy vehicles do not need to register with the CTQ. However, the SAAQ will open a record as soon as it is informed of an event involving a heavy vehicle driver on duty.

For more details about enrolling on the HVOO Register, please see the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) website.

Monitoring mechanism

When the SAAQ is informed that an owner or operator has been enrolled on the HVOO Register, it creates a record in their name. Any offences, accidents, roadside inspections, facility audits or other events relating to the operation or ownership of a heavy vehicle are contained in this record. The SAAQ monitors the conduct of all registered owners and operators by this means.

The SAAQ has adopted specific rules for monitoring and evaluating the conduct of owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles. These are described in its Conduct Review Policy for Heavy Vehicle Owners and Operators and Conduct Review Policy for Heavy Vehicle Drivers and Excellence Program for Heavy Vehicle Drivers.

The SAAQ intervenes in a series of gradually escalating steps in the form of information letters sent to those demonstrating unsafe conduct. If the conduct continues to deteriorate and the seriousness or number of events becomes too great, the record is forwarded to the CTQ for analysis. The heavy vehicle owners, operators and drivers are then informed.

For more information on the assessment policies, please visit the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ ) website.

Penalty mechanism

In addition to its administrative role, the CTQ has a quasi-judicial function. It has the authority to change or maintain the safety rating of a heavy vehicle owner or operator (HVOO).

The CTQ can decide whether a registrant’s conduct endangers the safety of others or threatens the integrity of the road network. If this is the case, it can change the HVOO’s safety rating to “conditional” or “unsatisfactory.” It may act on its own initiative or after the SAAQ has flagged the registrant’s record.

A “conditional” safety rating is generally accompanied by specific conditions that the CTQ deems necessary to correct identified deficiencies. Meanwhile, the “unsatisfactory” safety rating denotes that the registrant is prohibited from operating a heavy vehicle or putting a heavy vehicle into operation. In the case of drivers, the CTQ can order the SAAQ to ban them from driving a heavy vehicle.

For more information about the sanction mechanisms, please visit the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) website.

Safety ratings

The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles provides for three different safety ratings: “satisfactory,” “conditional” and “unsatisfactory.” The “satisfactory” safety rating may appear with or without the “unaudited” notation.

A safety rating reflects the assessment of the conduct of a person enrolled in the Register of owners and operators of heavy vehicles (HVOO Register) with respect to the safety of road users and the protection of the road network open to public vehicular traffic. Safety ratings in the HVOO Register are public and can be consulted free of charge. This may be done via the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) website.

“Satisfactory” safety rating

A “satisfactory” safety rating indicates that the person has an acceptable record of compliance with applicable laws and regulations and has passed a facility audit conducted by Contrôle routier Québec (CRQ).

“Unaudited” notation

The word “unaudited” is automatically added to the “satisfactory” safety rating when the person is enrolled on the HVOO Register. This indicates that the person meets the conditions for putting into operation or operating a heavy vehicle but has not yet undergone or passed the CRQ’s facility audit. The notation is removed once the registrant has passed the facility audit, but may be reinstated if there is another fail.

“Conditional” safety rating

A “conditional” safety rating indicates that the person has a right to put into operation or operate a heavy vehicle, subject to specific conditions. In the opinion of the CTQ, the registrant’s record reveals deficiencies that may be corrected by the imposition of certain conditions.

“Unsatisfactory” safety rating

An “unsatisfactory” safety rating indicates that the registered person is judged unfit to put into operation or operate a heavy vehicle. In the opinion of the CTQ, the registrant’s record reveals deficiencies that cannot be corrected by the imposition of conditions.

For more information about the safety ratings, please visit the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) website, where you will also find decisions regarding the changes made to a person or company's record.

Target clientele

The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles defines the types of persons and categories of vehicles that are subject to its application.

Persons subject to the Act

The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles distinguishes between the owner and the operator of a heavy vehicle. Certain rules apply to owners, while others apply to operators. The same person or company may fulfil both roles.

The persons subject to the Act are:

  • the owner: any natural or legal person who registers a heavy vehicle in their name (whether that person owns the vehicle or leases it for one year or more) or any person who has signed a leasing contract;
  • the operator: any natural or legal person who controls the operation of a heavy vehicle;
  • the driver: any person who drives a heavy vehicle and who holds a driver’s license issued by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ);
  • transport service intermediary: any person or company who, for remuneration, acts directly or indirectly as an intermediary in a transaction between third persons, the object of which is the transportation of persons or goods by a heavy vehicle.

Persons exempt from the Act

Persons exempt from the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles are:

  • owners and operators who use a heavy vehicle required by an emergency service or in the event of major or minor disaster;
  • individuals who use a heavy vehicle for personal purposes, i.e. for purposes other than commercial or professional;
  • persons who lease a heavy vehicle for their own use or who operate it free of charge for a period of less than 15 consecutive days;
  • lessors;
  • owners or operators using a heavy vehicle in locations that are isolated or not connected to the road network.

This last exemption applies only to municipalities or territories mentioned in Schedule 1 of the Regulation respecting the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles. Any time the owner or operator uses a heavy vehicle outside these locations, they become subject to the Act.

Vehicles subject to the Act

The vehicles subject to the Act are those considered heavy vehicles according to the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles, i.e.:

  • any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,500 kg or more;
  • a combination of road vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 4,500 kg or more.

The following vehicles are also considered heavy vehicles, regardless of their GVWR:

  • buses and minibuses;
  • tow trucks;
  • vehicles used to transport dangerous substances requiring the display of safety marks.

Vehicles exempt from the Act

Vehicles exempt from the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles are:

  • combinations of road vehicles where each vehicle (motorized or trailer) has a GVWR of less than 4,500 kg;
  • tool vehicles (grader, forklift, farm tractor, backloader, freestanding crane, wheeled power shovel, excavator (backhoe), etc.);
  • farm tractors, agricultural machinery and farm trailers (owned by a farmer);
  • motorized road vehicles issued a temporary registration certificate;
  • road vehicles bearing dealer plates (starting with the letter X);
  • road vehicles used by taxi permit holders, regardless of their GVWR;
  • passenger vehicles used to transport people for the purposes of baptisms, weddings, civil unions and funerals;
  • antique passenger vehicles over 30 years old used to transport people.

Gross vehicle weight rating

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) indicates the weight of a vehicle, including its maximum load, according to the maker’s specifications.

If the GVWR is 4,500 kg or more, this is mandatory information to be provided when registering a road vehicle with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).

Gross vehicle weight rating of a motorized vehicle

The GVWR is indicated on a vehicle’s compliance label, which is in the form of a sticker or metal plate. This also shows technical information such as the maker’s name, the year of manufacture and the vehicle’s ID number.

In the case of heavy vehicles, the compliance label is generally affixed to the door or doorframe on the driver’s side of the vehicle. It may also be placed on the left-hand side of the dashboard.

Gross vehicle weight rating of a trailer

In the case of a trailer, the compliance label is normally affixed on the outside, on the left towards the front.

If the trailer does not have a compliance label, the GVWR may be confirmed by an engineer’s report.

Gross vehicle weight rating of a hand-crafted trailer

In the case of a hand-crafted trailer, the registration certificate will say “ARTIS” under the make or model. The GVWR can be determined as follows:

  • for a trailer: sum of tires’ capacity (x) 1.1 = GVWR

    for a trailer: sum of tires’ capacity (x) 1.1 = GVWR
  • for a semi-trailer: sum of tires’ capacity (x) 1.25 = GVWR

    for a semi-trailer: sum of tires’ capacity (x) 1.25 = GVWR

Note: the difference between a trailer and a semi-trailer is based on the coupling system.

Identification of the operator

The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles distinguishes between the owner and the operator of a heavy vehicle. It is therefore important to clearly identify the different parties involved so that their conduct can be monitored correctly.

The owner is identified through the vehicle’s registration; identifying the operator can be more complex. To do this, a peace officer will use the means indicated in section 2.1 of the Regulation respecting the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles. These means include:

Should none of these documents be available, a peace officer may use one of the following two means to identify the operator:

  • a written document in which another person has acknowledged being the operator of the heavy vehicle subjected to the road check and having in fact controlled the operation of the vehicle;
  • the presumption indicated in section 42.6 of the Act, by which the owner or, in the case of a leased vehicle, the lessee is presumed to control the operation of the vehicle.

Transport service intermediary

A transport service intermediary is any natural or legal person or company who acts directly or indirectly as an intermediary in a transaction between third persons, the object of which is the transportation of persons or property by means of a heavy vehicle. The transport service intermediary performs this service in exchange for remuneration, similar to a broker.

A transport service intermediary must register with the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) in order to provide such services. It is possible to look up an intermediary's registration using their name or intermediary number. Any contract made with a transport service intermediary who is not registered, or whose registration has not been renewed, will be declared null and void.

The CTQ may furthermore refuse to register a transport service intermediary, or may remove their registration, if they are given an “unsatisfactory” rating as a heavy vehicle owner or operator.

The list of transport service intermediaries that do business in Québec is public and can be viewed free of charge on the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) website.

New / News

A new document is now available: the Guide regarding the Act respecting Owners, Operators and Drivers of Heavy Vehicles and its Regulations. This document updates the former operator identification guide and aims to improve understanding of the Act and the regulations that stem from it. The Guide is also intended to help make the identification of operators easier and to provide information on the documentation used in the process of identifying the operator responsible for a particular transport movement.

Legal references

Documentation

Useful links

For more information on the monitoring mechanisms and safety ratings related to the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles, please visit the following websites:

Frequently asked questions

In the trucking world, some people talk about “Bill 430,” while others talk about the “Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles.” Is there a difference?

The use of “Bill 430” to refer to the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles is an error stemming from the fact that the bill tabled in the National Assembly in 1998, which is at the origin of the Act, bore the number 430.

Is it true that the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles requires me to keep a logbook?

No. The Act provides mechanisms for identifying the owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles whose conduct appears to pose a risk, in order to take appropriate action. It is the Regulation respecting the hours of driving and rest of heavy vehicle drivers, which sets out the obligations surrounding the driving hours of heavy vehicle drivers.

I use my van, which has a GVWR of 3,500 kg, to haul a trailer with a GVWR of 1,100 kg. Do I have to put my name on the Register of owners and operators of heavy vehicles (HVOO Register)?

No. Combinations of road vehicles where each vehicle has a GVWR of less than 4,500 kg are completely exempt from the application of the Act. They are also therefore exempt from having to enrol in the HVOO Register.

However, this exemption does not apply in the case of a vehicle required to display safety marks in accordance with the Transportation of Dangerous Substances Regulation.

I’ve rented a heavy vehicle (4,600 kg GVWR) for the day to move my belongings. Do I need to enrol in the Register of owners and operators of heavy vehicles  (HVOO Register)?

No. You are exempt from having to enrol in the HVOO Register, as you are an individual using a vehicle for purposes other than commercial or professional. You are also exempt because you are leasing a heavy vehicle and operating it free of charge for a period of less than 15 consecutive days.

However, although you are not required to enrol in the HVOO Register, other obligations may apply with respect to heavy vehicle safety, such as road signs. It is your duty to inform yourself in this regard.

Is it true that a heavy vehicle driver who commits an offence can affect their employer’s record?

Yes. A heavy vehicle driver who commits an offence by, for instance, neglecting to wear a seatbelt in accordance with the Highway Safety Code may affect the conduct record and potentially the safety rating of their employer (the heavy vehicle operator).

However, a driver’s offence may only affect the employer’s record if it is committed while the driver is on the job and driving a heavy vehicle. When informed of this offence, the employer may take action with respect to the employee.

I transport lumber in the forest. Am I subject to the Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles?

Yes. The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles applies to all roads open to public vehicular traffic. This includes public highways, logging roads, land occupied by shopping centres or other land where public traffic is allowed.

Can I view the decisions of the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) and the safety ratings of heavy vehicle owners and operators?

Yes. The decisions of the CTQ and the safety ratings of owners and operators are public. You can access them for free via the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ) website.

Is it true that there are four safety ratings for heavy vehicle owners and operators in Québec?

No. The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles provides for three safety ratings: “satisfactory,” “conditional” and “unsatisfactory.” The “satisfactory” rating may appear with or without the “unaudited” notation.

Measures exist to identify and take action with respect to drivers who pose a risk to road safety and the protection of the road network. Aside from this, is there a program recognizing drivers whose conduct is exemplary?

Yes. In January 2011, the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) instituted its Excellence Program for Heavy Vehicle Drivers. Its purpose is to recognize drivers of heavy vehicles whose conduct is exemplary in terms of road safety. The SAAQ publishes a list of drivers whose conduct is considered exemplary, which is updated as applications are accepted.

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