B.C. trucking rules amended to increase fines, penalties for overpass crashes

B.C. is trying to crack down on trucks hitting overpasses. The government has announced several changes including higher fines, stronger consequences for repeat offenders, and speed limiters. Monika Gul reports.

B.C. says it is taking tougher action to reduce the number of overpass and infrastructure crashes involving large trucks, with increased fines and penalties.

Amendments to regulations under the Commercial Transport and Motor Vehicle acts will take effect in June 2024.

“So, the fines were — I think everybody would agree — ridiculously low and rarely issued,” Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming said Thursday.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming speaks to media
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming speaks to media on Thursday December 14, 2023. (CityNews Image)

“The new fines for offences related to over-height loads will more than quadruple to be the highest in Canada.”

The province notes that, while new fines will be the highest in the country, “amounts are currently limited by legislation.” It says it is reviewing potential legislative changes to allow for higher fines in the future.

Most of the changes will target repeat offenders who, Fleming says, will see escalating penalties.

A Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement vehicle on display
A Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement vehicle on display on Thursday December 14, 2023. (CItyNews Image)

Other changes include mandating new technical requirements, including warning devices for dump trucks and speed limiter technology on commercial trucks, in B.C., a more “robust” enforcement framework, and the possibility that licences be pulled for companies that are repeatedly involved in infrastructure crashes.

“This includes outright cancellation of their carrier safety certificate, which would effectively prevent the company from operating in B.C. and with that all the financial implications that would bring. It’s a strong message to those very, very few carriers involved in these crashes. Carelessness and complacency is going to cost [them],” Fleming explained.

“There simply is no excuse for a truck to crash into a bridge or an overpass.”

He adds “prevention is key,” which is why the province is imposing “new technical requirements to help avoid infrastructure collisions.”

Fines for speed-limiter non-compliance and tampering are being set at $295 and three driver penalty points.

Over-height vehicle-related fines are rising from $115 to $575, while non-compliance with in-cab warning devices for dump trucks will result in a fine of $598.

The amendments and new rules were made with collaboration from the BC Trucking Association, which says it welcomes and supports the moves.

BC Trucking Association supports changes

Dave Earle, CEO and president of the association, notes it’s “only a few outliers” who are involved in these types of crashes. He adds this is why the new enforcement strategy is focused on “those outliers.”

“We’ll continue to work with the ministry. We applaud them for bringing in speed limiters beginning next year for commercial vehicles. We know from data and other jurisdictions these have a demonstrable effect to improve road safety,” Earle said.

“We know that better training helps create better drivers, and we’ve had mandatory entry-level training in British Columbia for a couple of years now. And we’re working on more, both on the federal level and on the provincial level, to continue to improve driver training and improve onboarding practices to ensure that these incidents don’t happen again.”

There have been several overpass strikes on the Lower Mainland in 2023, with North Vancouver seeing one of these collisions as recently as September.

Overpass strikes often lead to significant traffic delays, as well as damage that is both expensive and time-consuming to repair.

According to provincial data, there have been 30 overpass strikes across B.C. since 2021.

Earle says while the fines are an important part of the changes, it’s the suspension of certificates that will really have an impact.

“The suspension of the ability to operate, which means right now, you’re not running, you’re parked. That’s thousands of dollars a day per truck, and it’s the entire fleet. So these are really, really significant, immediate consequences for these types of incidents. And that’s why we’re very pleased to be working with the ministry on this,” he said Thursday.

-With files from James Paracy and Monika Gul

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