The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles
The Act respecting owners, operators and drivers of heavy vehicles provides for monitoring mechanisms for persons and companies working in the road transportation of people and goods. The objective of these mechanisms is to identify the persons and companies whose conduct poses a risk for road safety or threatens the integrity of the road network. They also allow for measures to be taken against these persons so that they improve their conduct. The Act provides for the following three main monitoring mechanisms regarding the owners and operators of heavy vehicles:
Entry mechanism: To put into operation or operate a heavy vehicle, a person must be registered in the Registre des propriétaires et des exploitants de véhicules lourds of the Commission des transports du Québec.
Follow-up mechanism: The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) maintains a file on every registered person to record all offences and accidents involving them. The SAAQ determines levels or thresholds of risky conduct, and it advises individuals when they reach certain levels.
Penalty mechanism: When a file shows that a person has reached a level indicating a problematic conduct, the person is summoned to the Commission des transports du Québec, an administrative tribunal, which can impose penalties on them.
Identification of the Operator
Under the Act, there is a distinction between the owner and the operator of a heavy vehicle. This distinction is necessary in order to reflect situations in which the owner is not the operator of the vehicle, as may be the case when a heavy vehicle is rented or when an owner operator provides services exclusively to a company that operates the vehicle. The owner is responsible for following certain regulations (mainly the mechanical maintenance of the vehicle), whereas the operator is responsible for abiding by other regulations. The identification of the owner is done with the vehicle registration. The identification of the operator may be a lot more complex. The following guide on the application of the notion of operator (in French only) outlines the steps to follow for the identification of the operator.