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B.C. increases penalties for careless truckers in bid to stop crashes

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming says repeat offenders will see an escalation in fines or the company could have its fleet grounded.

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B.C. is bringing in tougher penalties in a bid to reduce the high number for commercial trucks crashing into bridges and overpasses.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming made the announcement Thursday, saying fines will quadruple to $575 for drivers that have overheight loads.

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“There may be a number of offences that can be stacked to take that total much higher. We’re limited in fines for a variety of reasons,” said Fleming.

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“We are looking at legislative changes to take those fines even higher. Those are discussions we’re having with the B.C. Trucking Association, but we’ve taken it to the limit of what we can do under the current legislation right now.”

Repeat offenders will be hit with an escalation in fines or a company could have its fleet grounded while a safety audit is conducted, he added. 

By June, dump-style vehicles will also require in-cab warning devices that will alert a driver if the dump box is raised when the vehicle is in motion. Failure to have these warning devices in dump trucks will result in a fine of $598.

Fleming said most of the industry is in compliance, but they are focussing on a small percentage of drivers that are causing the problems. He blamed the crashes on a few operators.

“I think these tools going forward are going to really send the strongest message possible and will will help us take those numbers down and we aim to get them down to zero,” he said.

Truckers have been calling for better training and more oversight for drivers following a high number of crashes into bridges and overpasses.

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This could also include cancellation of their carrier safety certificate, which would effectively prevent the company from operating in B.C.

Dave Earle, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, said these are significant changes that will cost non-compliant companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in business.

You better believe this message that we’re sending today is one that’s going to get the attention of those carriers who would otherwise exhibit carelessness on our roads,” he said.

The government is also bringing in new speed-limiter regulations which will require heavy commercial vehicles to have their speed-limiting systems activated and programmed by April 5.

This will prevent these vehicles from travelling more than 105 km/h on B.C. highways. The fine for speed-limiter non-compliance and tampering is $295 and three driver penalty points, the ministry said.

In May, a commercial truck crashed into an overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway in Langley. On the same day, another commercial vehicle smashed into an overpass in Abbotsford. Before that, a provincial website had listed 17 other bridge strikes on provincial highways since late 2021.

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Earle told Postmedia that drivers also need to know how to properly measure loads and plan for trips, and know whether loads will easily clear the height clearances on a route.

The ministry said the cost of repairs varies depending on the severity of the damage. For example, in July 2022, after a truck damaged the 192nd Street overpass in Langley, it remained closed for repairs for over eight months at a cost of approximately $1 million.

Where possible, the ministry works to recover repair costs from the insurance providers of the operators or vehicles that caused damage.

—with files from Joanne Lee-Young and Joseph Ruttle

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