01/02/2012 05:00 EST | Updated 03/02/2012 05:12 EST

Fender Benders In Canadian Government Vehicles Cost Feds Millions, Analysis Shows


OTTAWA - If the federal government wants to cut costs, it may want to put bureaucrats through driving school.

The government's books show fender benders involving federal vehicles in recent years cost taxpayers $28 million in repairs or write-offs.

An analysis by The Canadian Press of the government's audited financial statements since the 2000-01 fiscal year found thousands of federal vehicles have been in accidents.

At least 8,511 motor-vehicle accidents have been reported in the Public Accounts of Canada. However, the actual tally is probably higher than that since not all departments report the number of collisions in a given year.

Two-thirds of the overall cost of collisions came from the Mounties. Vehicle accidents involving members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police cost the government $18.8 million.

The RCMP has been in at least 4,596 motor-vehicle accidents since 2001, more than any other department or agency in the Public Accounts documents. However, the RCMP's annual crash tallies have only been reported in the Public Accounts since 2006, so the 10-year total is likely far higher.

The force has been getting in more and more accidents over the last five years. The number of RCMP accidents rose from 427 in 2006 to 1,068 last year.

A spokeswoman said given the nature of police work, it is little wonder the RCMP gets in more collisions than other branch of government.

"We are the only government agency involved in active policing. The RCMP fleet is the largest in the federal government other than (National Defence) and our officers and vehicles are on the road 24/7," Cpl. Laurence Trottier wrote in an email.

"The RCMP is also the only government agency that must travel in all types of weather in order to do our work. That inherently puts us in the position where we are actually pursuing violators, criminals, etc. that are obviously trying to evade capture and this sometimes results in a collision.

"We are also parked at the side of high speed highways and get hit by impaired and distracted drivers, which no other government organization is put into this vulnerable position."

But Mounties are not the only ones banging up their vehicles. Staff at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency got in at least 999 accidents at a cost of nearly $2.4 million.

No one from the CFIA was available for comment.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans came in third, with at least 749 accidents that cost $1.6 million, followed by the Correctional Service of Canada, with at least 647 accidents that also cost $1.6 million.

Other departments that got in a significant number of fender benders include the Canada Revenue Agency, Parks Canada, Agriculture, Human Resources and Skills Development and Transport Canada.

Accidents in government vehicles account for only a small fraction of the country's overall collisions.

Statistics published by Transport Canada show that between 2000 and 2009, there were nearly 1.5 million motor-vehicle collisions that caused injury or death in Canada. No data were available showing the number of collisions in which no one was hurt or killed.

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