BC Gov’t Introduces Even Tougher Penalties for Truckers

By: Jag Dhatt

Just a few months after imposing some slightly higher fines, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure dropped the hammer down hard for truckers and trucking companies who are responsible for striking provincial infrastructure.

On March 12, the BC Minister Rob Fleming announced that courts will now be able to impose fines up to $100,000, imprisonment up to 18 months or a combination of both upon conviction for such violations.

In the past 3 years, there have been over 35 crashes in BC, mostly in the lower mainland, caused by over-height commercial vehicles. Most, if not all, of these are due to negligence and are completely preventable.

“These new penalties will keep our roads safe and keep people, good, and services moving,” said Fleming. “These changes are a message to commercial truck drivers that they are responsible for the safe transportation of goods and services on our roads, and a lax attitude toward safety will not be tolerated.”

Dave Earle, President of the BCTA, welcomes the new stiffer penalties and says, “the province needs to hold carriers accountable. Imposing stricter penalties for carriers supports road safety and helps protect infrastructure, and ultimately enhances safety for everyone on the roads.”

In addition to stricter penalties, BC will require dump truck vehicles to have a working in-cab warning device that alerts operators when the dump box is raised. Also, speed limiting devices will be required preventing commercial vehicles from traveling more than 105 km/h on BC highways. These changes will take effect on June 1st.

One commercial driver, who travels from Vancouver to Chilliwack 2 or 3 times a day, said he’s baffled by what he sees. “I’ve been driving trucks for over 25 years, and every day, I see trucks on the Highway 1 going faster than 120 km/h, using the HOV lane, and even changing lanes in dangerous manners.”

Another driver said that although such hefty fines may be a deterrent, it may not be the solution. “We need to have better training for new drivers. And not just better training but holding driving schools accountable and have them audited.”

And United Truckers Association spokesperson, Gagan Singh, agrees that the fault should not completely rest upon the driver. He says that many times, new drivers in Canada are reluctant to speak up against improper loads or refuse work because their work permits are tied to their employers. “It’s almost like a double edged sword,” says Singh. He says that if drivers refuse, they may lose work and if they accept improper loads and get caught, they can now get hefty fines or jail. “Passing a law isn’t that simple. There are many factors in ensuring the safe transport of goods other than just the driver.”

In the past, measures taken by the government haven’t show much success in deterring such incidents. Time will tell if the new stricter fines and possible jail time will make a difference.

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