CTA Statement on Sentencing of Truck Driver in Humboldt Bus Crash

In the wake of the sentencing of the truck driver who was charged in the Humboldt bus crash tragedy, the Canadian Trucking Alliance stands with the families, who in their victim impact statements called for more safety oversight and enforcement of the trucking industry in Canada.

The vast majority of motor carriers in Canada foster and promote a steadfast culture of safety and compliance, which includes progressive safety management systems, rigorous training and corrective oversight.

This week CTA has been asked repeatedly by media if the volume of charges against the driver, including multiple hours-of-service violations, is considered normal for a single operator of a trucking company. The answer is no. CTA points out, however, that a small percentage of carriers lack appropriate safety management policies, thorough ongoing training and oversight of the drivers they employ. This must change.

The federal government, led by Transport Minister Marc Garneau and the provincial transportation ministers, have responded swiftly by announcing a national mandatory entry level training (MELT) standard by Jan. 1, 2020. While this is a positive step, CTA continues its call to end the type of hours-of-service abuse exhibited in this case by also introducing tamper-proof, third-party certified electronic logging devices (ELDs) as soon as possible. CTA is encouraged by two recent announcements by Canada’s First Ministers and The Council of Ministers Responsible For Transportation and Highways Safety to prioritize ELD implementation across Canada.

In the U.S., a mandatory ELD rule took effect in December 2017, while the Canadian government is eyeing a possible final rule to be published this spring. CTA is urging regulators to implement and begin enforcing a regulation for mandatory, tamper-proof, third-party certified ELD technology in all commercial trucks that currently require logbooks no later than one year after the rule is published.

ELDs do not in any way change the existing Canadian Federal Hours of Service Regulations for truck drivers, which were introduced in 2005 after over a decade of study and input from sleep scientists, academics, governments and the trucking industry to ensure truck drivers are not fatigued while operating a commercial vehicle. ELDs simply replace archaic paper logbooks, which were central among the charges against the truck driver in the Humboldt case.

According to Transport Canada, fatigue in both truck and passenger car drivers is a factor in about 20 per cent of all collisions. There are about 9,400 HOS-related per year in Canada and the introduction of tamper-proof, certified ELDs will significantly improve compliance.

It is the responsibility of all trucking companies operating in Canada to keep the public safe and to achieve compliance by employing and properly supervising only well-trained, professional drivers who fully understand the rules of the road. CTA will therefore be closely following the upcoming trial of the trucking company owner involved in the Humboldt Broncos case. CTA will comment further as the details of that case emerge.

CTA’s 10-point Safety Action Plan released in the summer of 2018 has thus far provided policy makers with some direction on how government and industry can work together on improving trucking industry compliance issues through ELD enforcement, MELT, targeting distracted driving, sobriety, enhancing carrier evaluation programs along with new technology recommendations.