On May 31, 2024, the British Columbia Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against a commercial carrier and a driver for damages, losses and expenses to repair a bridge damaged in an incident. This is a bold move for the Attorney General’s office and depending on the outcome it may open the door to other jurisdictions following suit.

In August 2022, a commercial vehicle was involved in an incident while transporting dangerous goods and the result was catastrophic. The driver was killed, a vital bridge was significantly damaged, and the community was cut off from essential services. The bridge is still being worked on and the current estimate is $4.25 million. In British Columbia the insurance liability limits for a commercial carrier are 10 million per occurrence and an extra $2 million for the dangerous goods. Maybe the British Columbia government should increase the minimum insurance liability limits to an amount that reflects the cost replacement value of a bridge today? In British Columbia it is a public insurance model, and this is just a matter of changing the insurance regulations.

In this case, the insurance company is never going to have to pay a dime to the carrier because the Attorney General has already pinned the blame on the company and the driver. The insurance company (who is the BC Government) has many many things to “limit liability”, when paying insurance claims. Good luck getting $4.5 million out of a trucking company and a driver’s estate. I personally do not know many drivers taking home that kind of money. The trucking company will go bankrupt with lawyer fees and what point is being made?

In its lawsuit, the federal government doesn't pinpoint exactly what caused the truck to crash into the bridge. Instead, it alleges that negligence from both the company and the driver "caused or contributed to" the crash and the resulting fire. The statement of claim says Troyer Ventures allegedly failed to check that the truck was "mechanically sound," inspect its brakes and ensure that the driver was properly trained for transporting dangerous goods. It also includes a long list of alleged errors made by the driver, ranging from neglecting to ensure the truck was sound and operating "while his ability to drive was impaired by fatigue or other factors."

The lawsuit does not provide evidence indicating how the incident occurred but, they allege the driver and company had a role to play. You know who else has a role to play? The provincial jurisdictions that are supposed to be monitoring commercial carriers to ensure the company has a maintenance program and is conducting vehicle inspections. Under the National Safety Code (NSC Standard 7) the provincial jurisdictions are required to use enforcement information from all of Canada and the United States to determine if the carrier meets the national safety standards. The carrier in the lawsuit, according to the public carrier profile system, currently holds an Alberta Safety Fitness Certificate with a Satisfactory safety rating.  A Satisfactory rating means the carrier had a review by the Government of Alberta or a Third Party Auditor (TPA), who are certified by the Government of Alberta. That review found the Carrier has achieved acceptable results on NSC audit; the Carrier has not been identified on Alberta Transportation's monitoring list in the past 12 months and the Carrier has no outstanding compliance issues. Blowing up a bridge and a fatality from 2022 is not an outstanding compliance issue in 2024?

Two crucial aspects to bear in mind:

  1. Alberta does not have accurate enforcement information from all the jurisdictions, see my blog, don’t look behind the curtain! unveiling the Alberta Transportation safety scam. The Alberta Transportation's monitoring list does not have accurate data. Even if TEC corrected the data issue immediately the historically data is flawed.
  2. The Third Party Auditor Program is fundamentally flawed, see my blog, Questioning Accountability: The Controversial Alberta Government TPA Program and its Impact on Trucking Companies. The TPA audit results are not accurate, and those inaccurate results contribute to the safety score data used by the Alberta Transportation algorithm.

Dave Earle, the CEO and president of the B.C. Trucking Association said there is not enough staff and not enough enforcement being done. Now we have a situation for those inspections that are getting done, the data is not being received by the jurisdictions that are responsible for monitoring the carrier. The data the jurisdiction is using to determine safety isn’t correct or timely, is it any wonder that transportation safety is such a shit show? Nobody is watching.

If the British Columbia Attorney General is going to hold a carrier and a driver responsible, then I believe the Attorney General has a few bridge strike carriers to review. The same bridge strike carrier that is operating in Alberta because, it’s Transportation and Economic Corridors Department and Alberta is open for business. You can’t sue one carrier and not sue all the carriers that cause significant damage and death. Lawsuits go both ways, if the Attorney General is going after carriers and drivers then I know more than a few families who should consider suing their respective provincial jurisdictions for knowingly allowing operations despite glaring compliance issues and the jurisdiction’s own operational failings of compliance and oversight. We all have a role to play in transportation safety.

In my BLOG, “Why is trucking so F%&$ed up in Alberta? I can tell you why”, I explored the concern that Transportation and Economic Corridors have a vested interest in the economy and transportation safety becomes a secondary priority. Stop expecting Alberta Transportation to help you! Compliance and Oversight makes their budget from writing tickets, no matter how government tries to sell it.

Enforcement and education are two key components in a transportation regulatory framework, and they serve very different purposes. Enforcement uses penalties, fines, or legal actions to ensure compliance with regulations. It is a reactive approach that focuses on punishing non-compliance and deterring future violations. Education provides information, guidance, and resources to help industry understand and comply with regulations. It is a proactive approach that aims to promote awareness, understanding, and voluntary compliance.

Enforcement mechanisms are important for holding unsafe carriers and drivers accountable and maintaining whatever integrity is left of the commercial transportation industry. Where it all falls apart is when the regulatory bodies make the rules and don’t inform industry what those rules mean to them. Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors has had the ELD regulations for three years and carriers facing departmental intervention are clueless to the risks.

In a roadside stop ELD penalties can add up fast. An example is; a driver’s ELD was in a malfunction state for the day the driver was stopped and inspected and the 14 previous days. If the driver did not follow the malfunction protocol the driver could be charged under 78(1) failure to ensure ELD operates in good working order and is calibrated and maintained. That penalty is recommended to be $1000.00 per offence for the driver. That would be $15,000.00. The carrier could be facing: 78(5) Failure to repair or replace ELD within required timeframe. $1000.00 per offence is $15,000.00 for the carrier.  If the driver intentionally disconnecting the ELD to avoid accurate recording of the information that could be 86(3), Tamper with ELD $1000.00 per offence and the carrier could be facing 86(3) request require allow a person to tamper with ELD $2000.00 per offence. The carrier could be charged for every day because the carrier is supposed to be monitoring the driver, (87(1) and 78.3 (1)) using the carrier ELD dashboard and is aware of the malfunction. Imagine explaining to your boss how a driver earned the company a $32,000.00 penalty. Nobody gets a safety bonus this month!

This isn’t the good old days of trucking; drivers and carriers are monitored in real time and roadside officers are armed and have expanded powers including detention. Drivers need to take care during a roadside stop, speak respectfully and ask questions respectfully, even if the driver is correct and the officer wrong. In a roadside situation the person with the gun is always right and drivers need to remember that.

In summary, enforcement is about penalizing non-compliance, while education is about empowering compliance through awareness and understanding. Both enforcement and education are important tools in a regulatory framework, and a balanced approach that combines both can be effective in achieving regulatory goals. The problem is Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors Alberta is not balanced; the focus is enforcement with no education for the carriers to be successful. Why would Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors slit the throat of this cash cow when carriers can be kept in the dark and the cash keeps flowing?

Alberta TEC has introduced a new risk factor scoring process as of May 1,2024 that is intended to enhance the identification of the most high-risk carriers operating in Alberta. I would ask the bridge department which carriers are high risk but, government loves data and scoring so, here we are. Roadcheck is in May and Roadcheck is when all the inspectors are out getting inspection numbers to stay certified. Roadcheck is also when all the tickets get written, what a funny coincidence that is. Historical carrier information will remain unchanged. This only applies to points after month-end for April 2024.

A carrier’s risk factor score (R-Factor) is used to determine a carrier’s on-road safety performance to pinpoint carriers with concerning data. For specific details the changes to the scoring are on the TEC (Transportation and Economic Corridors) May Bulletin 1.0: Overview of the Risk Factor Score, Risk Factor Score Change Summary & Carrier Impacts.

TEC (Transportation and Economic Corridors) acknowledges there may be fluctuations to carriers R-Factor score. Carriers may find that their risk factor score has changed from March 2024 to April 2024 month-end, as a result of the refinements. Changes in the risk factor score may impact carrier monitoring, and move the carrier on or off of monitoring, and/or move the carrier to a different stage of monitoring.

Alberta Transportation could not program an audit system that accepts time by the second (see my Data Entry Debacle BLOG). Alberta Transportation cannot get enforcement data from all jurisdictions because of a computer glitch (see my Hidden Dangers: Exposing the of Unreliable Safety Fitness Ratings of Alberta Motor Carriers BLOG). Can industry really trust Alberta Transportation to accurate calculate this “new” algorithm? Probably not. Every carrier should pull a copy of their carrier profile at the end of May, June and July to ensure there is nothing unexpected.

If you do find yourself in monitoring and you’re getting a review from the department, give me a call.  

Introduction:

Increasingly, carriers utilizing Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) face challenges with unidentified driving events that can lead to violations during audits and investigations. However, by leveraging the exempt driver functionality within the ELD system, carriers may mitigate those unidentified driving events.

Understanding the Exempt Driver Functionality:

All ELD systems come equipped with an exempt driver function, allowing carriers to configure accounts for drivers who may be exempt from ELD usage. For instance, drivers operating under the short-haul exemption within 160 km of their home terminal can be designated as exempt. This designation enables the sharing of ELD-equipped commercial motor vehicles between exempt and non-exempt drivers seamlessly. The Technical Standard. 3.1.3 Configuration of user account exempt from using an ELD:  As specified in 4.3.3.1.2 of the Technical Standard, an ELD must allow a motor carrier to configure an ELD for a driver who may be exempt from the use of an ELD. An example of an exempt driver would be a driver driving under the short-haul exemption under current HOS regulations (i.e. specified in regulation as within a radius of 160 km of the home terminal). Even though exempt drivers do not have to use an ELD, an ELD equipped CMV may be shared between exempt and non-exempt drivers and motor carriers can use this allowed configuration to avoid issues with unidentified driver data diagnostics errors.

Implementation and Training:

Drivers and administrators must be trained on how to utilize the exempt functionality in real-world scenarios. Administrators need to activate the exempt function when creating driver accounts, customizing it for specific drivers even if only a few will be using the exemption.

Compliance and Monitoring:

Drivers using the exempt functionality are not exempt from federal Hours of Service regulations but are excused from using a ELD to record the driver’s time. However, they still need to maintain alternative time records that meet regulatory criteria. Drivers must verify their exempt status periodically, as the ELD does not automatically maintain this status.

Challenges of the Exempt Driver Function:

Transitioning from exempt to non-exempt status can pose challenges, especially when the exemption ends, and ELD usage becomes mandatory. Drivers are required to enter time from paper logs or alternative records.

The Technical Standard 4.3.2.2.4 Indication of Situations Impacting duty-/driving-hour limitations: c) An ELD must provide the means to indicate additional hours that were not recorded for the current motor carrier during the current day or the required previous days specified in current HOS regulations:

(1) When this function is selected, the ELD must prompt the user to select one of the following

options:

i. Option 1: additional hours already recorded and reported in a RODS for another motor carrier.

ii. Option 2: additional hours not recorded since the driver was not required to keep a RODS immediately before the beginning of the day.

Conclusion:

The exempt driver functionality within ELD systems offers a valuable tool for carriers with drivers alternating between exempt and non-exempt status. While managing this transition may require additional effort from both drivers and administrators, the benefits of leveraging the exempt driver function for seamless operations and compliance monitoring cannot be overlooked. By understanding, training, and effectively implementing the exempt driver functionality, carriers may avoid unidentified driving events and avoid administrative penalties.

The Humboldt incident, which tragically highlighted the need for better driver training in the operation of commercial vehicles, prompted Alberta Transportation and other jurisdictions to introduce MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) to bridge this knowledge gap. MELT, as the name suggests, is entry-level training aimed at equipping individuals new to the field with essential skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary for safe and competent driving. This crucial training encompasses formal instruction, on-road training, mentoring, and assessments, laying the foundation for growth and development behind the wheel.

Most individuals undergo driver education in high school and then gradually build experience by driving. Most new drivers did not get a class 5 go home and hook up a trailer and drive in the mountains the next day. It is the same thing for MELT, it is entry level, why is it okay for a MELT driver to graduate and the next day load up a set of super B’s and go trucking? It isn’t and that is the carrier training component of AR314/2002 Section 41(1)(h)(i). to provide ongoing training related to vehicle operation and compliance with safety laws even after a driver has completed MELT.

Recognizing that experience plays a vital role in ensuring safe driving practices, Alberta Transportation is set to roll out an apprenticeship program starting in 2026. This program aims to transition drivers from entry-level to experienced while being closely monitored, akin to how pilots accumulate hundreds of flight hours before flying passengers. This underscores the importance of hands-on experience and continuous learning to mitigate risks and enhance safety standards in the commercial driving sector.

What do we do until 2026? Train the drivers!

What are the regulatory requirements for carrier driver training?

A Carrier Safety program in regards to driver training; According to section 40(1) of the Alberta Commercial Vehicle Certificate and Insurance Regulation (AR314/2002), a carrier must create policies that discuss these subjects in their safety program:

Carriers are required by law to make sure all employees are trained in and knowledgeable of all applicable safety laws: Traffic Safety Act - including, but not limited to those related to: Hours of Service, Cargo Securement, Rules of the Road, Use of Safety Equipment, Weights and Dimensions, Vehicle Maintenance and DVIR and Record Keeping.

Carrier Orientation and Training:

Carriers must also choose the ways they will inform all new employees about the company’s policies and procedures. They may also provide training to ensure the effective and safe operations of their commercial vehicles. Carriers may develop and deliver suitable training material within their own company or they may use public training courses. They may also hire a consultant to provide customized training, or they may use a combination of these options to train their employees.

Can I train drivers in house? This is the guidance from Alberta Transportation to auditors;

Answer yes if, There is a record of all related training on file (e.g. tests, certificates, course attendance lists, certificate of completion or list of all training completed), including training identified in the carrier’s Safety Program. It is expected that a driver receives training (such as: hours of service, trip inspection, load securement, weights and dimensions, DG as applicable, etc.) in all areas with respect to the operation of a commercial vehicle, if applicable. It is acceptable if this information is contained in a separate “training” file, computer or other system viewable by the User provided the carrier could easily produce training information for an individual driver verifying that applicable training was taken. Also answer “Yes” if evidence is found that drivers have been adequately instructed by their previous employer, then evaluated and accepted by their current employer. A written record of the evaluation must be present. User may accept any training that the carrier can demonstrate is adequate for their drivers given the type of job, vehicle, etc. that the employees operate. Alberta Transportation’s Education Manual was not created or intended to be used as formal training.

Can I use the Alberta Transportation Education Manual?

No, Education Manual disclaimer:

The material in this document is not intended to represent a full training course in any subject area covered. However, it may form part of a carrier’s larger training program. The reader is invited to reproduce all or part of this document, however, at no time should the information contained here be altered in any way nor used in a manner that would change the intended meaning of the material or its accuracy.

What records do I need to document driver training?

This is the guidance from Alberta Transportation to auditors: Does the carrier instruct drivers for: Hours of Service; Trip inspection; load securement; applicable safety law requirements; have an ongoing eval of driving skills?

Regulation: AR314/2002 Section 40 (1)(c) & (e).

Carrier has a written policy and any applicable training materials (may include evidence of instruction or examination from an external source/provider) clearly specifying the training required for drivers and an ongoing program for evaluating driving skills. Examples of training material that would be acceptable include tests, course materials and instructional videos. User may accept any written training policy that the carrier says they feel is adequate for their drivers given the type of job/ vehicle the employee operates. User should comment if they feel the training material is poor or requires updating. An example of what would be expected in order to be answered yes might include: The carrier’s program states “All drivers will be trained in Federal hours of service, trip inspections, load securement (commodity specific), weights/dimensions and must successfully pass a road test with the Safety Officer prior to being authorized to drive an NSC vehicle. Each driver will be required to re-certify in the vehicle every 24 months and pass a driver qualification review every 12 months.” For the purposes of answering this question only, actual proof of training is not required to answer “yes”; it must be in their program and, if it is, there should be training material available to support this. User may ask the carrier to see this material if it is not readily available. This question is asking what is the carrier doing with their drivers AFTER they have hired them and authorized them to drive in the first place (i.e. we don’t want a carrier hiring a driver and then never check up on them for as long as they work there). There is no measurement of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, only does the carrier have a program in place to actually check on their drivers periodically to ensure they are still good drivers. This can be nearly anything, but it must still be reasonable.

Driver training is a endeavor that demands ongoing commitment and diligence from carriers to uphold standards and promote the professional development of drivers. By adhering to regulatory guidelines, implementing comprehensive training programs, and embracing the value of experience, carriers can avoid penalties as a result of an audit or investigation. Untrained drivers expose a carrier to increased liability in a serious on road incident.

Introduction:

We can all agree the ELD hours of service regulations desperately need an interpretation guide especially around NSC Standard 15 Audits. The adoption of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) has brought about significant changes in how hours of service regulations are enforced and monitored. Understanding the intricate guidelines around ELDs, particularly in relation to NSC Standard 15 Audits, is crucial for both trucking companies and drivers to avoid penalties and ensure compliance.

ELD Interpretation Guidelines and Regulatory Responsibility:

The need is great for a comprehensive interpretation guide for ELD regulations, specifically NSC Standard 15 Audits. The CCMTA (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators) in conjunction with Transport Canada developed the ELD Technical Standard and the certification testing. However, the responsibility for interpreting these regulations falls on individual provincial jurisdictions. When a provincial jurisdiction chooses to adopt a federal regulation, it is up the provincial jurisdiction to decide what that regulation means to its constituents. This lack of standardized guidelines can lead to confusion and misinterpretation, highlighting the importance of clear communication between regulatory bodies and industry players.

When Alberta Transportation chose to adopt the Federal Hours of Service regulation, which included the ELD mandate, Alberta Transportation had a governmental obligation to inform industry what that meant, especially when issuing administrative penalties/fines for contravention of that regulation. A trucking company that received an administrative penalty or downgraded SFC should seek clarification from Alberta Transportation, to explain the penalty. Industry needs fair treatment and transparency in enforcement of regulations. Maybe if industry starts questioning things, Alberta Transportation will have to deal with ELDs. Alberta Transportation dropped the ball that is clear, but what does industry do now? Status quo isn’t going to work anymore; it’s been 2 years.

The Spirit of ELD Mandate and the Technical Standard:

Whenever a regulation is questioned, bureaucrats like to revert to the spirit of the regulation. Simply, this means determining what were the regulators looking to accomplish when they wrote the ELD mandate and the Technical Standard. Let’s examine the spirit of the ELD mandate and the Technical Standard. To do this, it is essential to delve into the historical context of paper logs and the evolution of monitoring technologies in transportation. In the old days, driver tracked their own time in a paper log book. The driver turned in the paper logs every few weeks and the trucking company that employed the driver would review those records to verify the accuracy, but for the most part it was on the driver. GPS was adopted by most trucking companies in the 90’s and GPS was used to track drivers and audit logs but, it was still weeks after the trip. The trucking company was, and still is, very rarely held liable for a driver’s behaviour. People who were injured in collisions or fatalities got sick of suing broke truck drivers and decided it was better to go after trucking companies with big insurance policies. What better evidence than a government certified system that continuously monitors the driver and alerts the driver and company in real time if the driver is in an out-of-service condition?  Add in front and rear facing cameras and the lawyers are golden.

The Role of ELDs in Enhancing Safety and Accountability:

ELDs establish real-time monitoring of driver activities, ensuring compliance with rest requirements and promoting road safety. While the intentions behind these regulations are noble, the practical implementation and adherence pose significant challenges for both drivers and carriers. ELDs serve as a crucial tool in enhancing safety standards and accountability within the transportation industry. By providing real-time data on driver activity and alerting carriers to potential violations, ELDs aim to prevent instances of driver fatigue. The driver and the carrier working together, using the information from the ELD, are supposed to ensure the driver is never exceeding daily limits or are in an out of service condition. The wording from the hours of service regulation (78.3 & 78.2) is certify, verify and monitor. The collaborative effort required between drivers and carriers in using ELD data for monitoring and compliance underscores the shared responsibility in upholding road safety standards.

Conclusion:

It is paramount as the ELD technology evolves; the hours of service regulation will need continuous updates. Industry needs cohesive interpretation guides and transparent communication channels. By embracing the spirit of ELD mandate and leveraging technological advancements to enhance safety and compliance, the transportation industry can pave the way for a more efficient and secure operating environment for all parties involved. That is the spirit of the regulation, to ensure that liability is shared equally.

In the world of commercial transportation, safety is paramount. To ensure the safety of drivers and other road users, regulations and monitoring programs are essential. One such program is the National Safety Code (NSC), which sets standards for commercial vehicles, drivers, and motor carriers in Canada. This code, though not law, is crucial in guiding provincial and territorial governments in drafting their safety regulations. In Alberta, the regulations are outlined in the Commercial Vehicle Certificate and Insurance Regulation, AR 314/2002 (Part 4.1).

NSC Standard 7 is the criteria for carrier and driver profiles. The Carrier Profile system is designed to provide an overview of a carrier's safety performance, encompassing records of infractions, collisions, on-road inspections, and facility audits. This system allows Alberta to monitor carriers' performance and take action against those posing safety risks across North America.

The Carrier Profile acts as a report card for carriers, offering transparency to stakeholders like shippers, insurance companies, and the public. By accessing this information, stakeholders can make informed decisions about engaging with specific carriers, promoting safety and accountability within the industry.

However, there is a critical issue with the reliability of the Carrier Profile data. Despite its intended purpose, there is a significant flaw in data sharing between jurisdictions. Alberta is not accurately capturing enforcement data from other provinces. This oversight means that Alberta trucking companies involved in incidents outside the province may not have their records updated promptly or accurately on their Carrier Profiles.

The implications of this data discrepancy are concerning. Carriers with incomplete or delayed information may not face the necessary interventions or audits, leading to inaccuracies in their risk factor scores. This discrepancy could potentially result in carriers maintaining a clean record, qualifying for insurance discounts, and evading enhanced monitoring or audits due to inaccurate risk assessment.

Moreover, the shortcomings extend to the auditing process itself. TPA (Third Party Auditors) do not have encryption keys and cannot audit unencrypted RODS. TPA (Third Party Auditors) lack proper training, support, and communication channels with Alberta Transportation, leading to flawed audits that further impact safety compliance determinations. This systemic issue raises questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the safety oversight program in Alberta.

Despite federal funding allocated to enhance road safety and data exchange initiatives, the existing gaps in the Carrier Profile system highlight a critical need for improvement. The discrepancy between intended safety measures and operational shortcomings underscores the urgency for corrective actions and increased accountability within the transportation safety framework.

Why is Alberta Transportation allowed to continue a program that is fundamentally flawed? Why are taxpayers paying salaries to a leadership group to run a flawed program? This is just another example of government inertia that is allowed to continue unabated while bureaucrats collect taxpayer salaries to do a terrible job. As taxpayers and stakeholders invested in road safety, it is essential to demand transparency, efficiency, and accuracy in safety monitoring programs. Accountability and rectification of existing flaws are imperative to uphold the standards of safety and compliance in the commercial transportation industry.

In conclusion, the revelations regarding the Alberta Transportation safety monitoring system shed light on the need for reform and transparency in data sharing and auditing processes. By addressing these issues, we can ensure that carriers are held accountable, road safety is prioritized, and the integrity of safety compliance programs is maintained for the well-being of all road users.

In the arena of politics and government decision-making, lobbying is a controversial practice that often sparks debates and raises concerns about its influence on public policy. While lobbying can serve as a powerful tool for advocacy and positive change, it also has a dark side marked by unethical behaviors and potential manipulation of government regulations.

Lobbying, defined as the act of attempting to influence decisions made by government officials, is a common practice in both the United States and Canada. However, the way lobbying is conducted, and its impact vary between the two countries. In the United States, the connections between lobby groups and donations to government officials have raised suspicions and led to scrutiny, especially during presidential elections. On the other hand, Canada has a smaller lobbying industry with less influence of money, but it is not immune to lobbying scandals.

One such scandal that rocked the Canadian political landscape was the SNC-Lavalin affair, where a prominent engineering company engaged in unlawful lobbying activities to secure a government agreement. The scandal shed light on the ethical and legal implications of lobbying practices, highlighting concerns about transparency in government decision-making and the potential for undue influence on public policy.

While cases like the SNC-Lavalin scandal tarnish the reputation of lobbying, not all lobbying efforts are harmful. Advocacy organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Canada have successfully lobbied for stricter laws and policies to combat impaired driving, leading to tangible improvements in road safety and a reduction in alcohol-related accidents.

However, the issue arises when lobbying serves the interests of specific industries at the expense of public safety and accountability. This example of the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) lobbying on behalf of the Canadian Association of Energy Contractors (CAOEC) to secure exemptions raises questions about the integrity of lobbying practices.

The AMTA successfully lobbied Alberta Transportation and got exemptions to the Oilfield Exemption Permit as it relates to the Hours of Service regulations. Specifically, under this permit, a driver does not have to use the prescribed log book required in the Hours of Service regulation. Drivers under this permit are already exempt from using a ELD and should be using a paper log to meet the Hours of Service requirements. However, because of lobbying instead of a paper log these drivers are allowed to record working time on a “tour sheet”. The criteria for a “tour sheet” only requires the total on-duty and off duty hours for the day. No work shift start and end time is required. There is absolutely no way for an auditor to confirm total off duty requirements are met if there is no start and end time. The CAOEC essentially got an exemption to the very heart of the regulation which is to ensure drivers are getting adequate off duty time. By influencing Alberta Transportation to grant exemptions that compromise driver safety and accountability, the AMTA and CAOEC showcase how lobbying can be used to circumvent regulations for the benefit of industry interests.

Farmers and Ranchers in Alberta have been asking for a ELD permit or a ELD exemption for years and it has been ignored. The disparity in treatment between different sectors, as seen in the case of farmers and ranchers in Alberta seeking ELD permits or exemptions, further underscores the need for fair and transparent lobbying practices.

When government decisions prioritize economic interests over public safety, it creates a concerning precedent that undermines the trust in regulatory processes. Unethical lobbying practices erode trust in government institutions and jeopardize public welfare. It is crucial for policymakers, advocacy groups, and citizens to remain vigilant and hold lobbying activities with government accountable to ensure transparency, fairness, and ethical conduct in shaping government decisions.

When you mix transportation in with economic corridors there is always the risk that safety will not be a priority over the economy. I want to address some critical safety gaps that have been ignored by TEC (Transportation and Economic Corridors) for years. Albertan’s should be deeply troubled by the neglect of crucial safety policies within Compliance and Oversight.

The Compliance and Oversight department monitors the overall safety of trucking companies in Alberta. Compliance and Oversight conducts audits and investigations to ensure compliance with the NSC standards. However, there are glaring issues that demand immediate attention:

1. **Non-Compliance with Intervention and Discipline Policies:** There is a disturbing trend of Compliance and Oversight failing to adhere to its own policies. Companies with significant safety violations are not being labeled as unsatisfactory, allowing them to operate under conditional status without proper intervention. This negligence has been repeatedly highlighted in audits by the Auditor General, yet no corrective actions have been taken.

2. **Flawed Third-Party Auditor (TPA) Program:** The TPA program, responsible for conducting NSC Standard 15 Audits on behalf of the Alberta government, is fundamentally flawed:

   - Auditors do not have encryption keys to be able to download complete RODS. This compromised data is used for hours of service reviews, impacting carrier safety and public road safety.

   - Lack of support for auditors, hindering their ability to communicate with TEC for assistance.

   - Inadequate training and monitoring of auditors, leading to unreliable audit information.

   - Inefficiencies in data processing and communication, undermining the accuracy and effectiveness of audits.

If any carrier failed a audit or got a penalty as a result of a audit by a TPA in the last 2 years, I would 100% appeal it. The TPA audits are not accurate because TPA auditors do not have the “key” to unlock the box, that contains the accurate RODS. Would you pay your income tax if you found out the T4’s information has been wrong for years? Pretty simple argument.

To address these urgent safety concerns, the following actions are proposed:

1. Immediate review of all TPA audits and compliance records since June 2022, to ensure accuracy and reliability.

2. Establish a streamlined process for handling TPA audit by providing encryption keys, enhancing transparency and accountability.

3. Enforce intervention and discipline policies rigorously, ensuring that unsafe carriers are marked unsatisfactory and penalized accordingly, promoting road safety and public confidence.

Continuing to ignore these issues and allowing unsafe carriers continued operation is validating the perception that Alberta highways are more dangerous today. Unfortunately, these issues will be ignored until there is another incident involving a Alberta trucking company that Compliance and Oversight deemed safe. 

This is a quote from the Transportation and Economic Corridors Annual Report 2022-2023, “Innovation is core to TEC’s mandate. In 2022 ‑ 23, TEC delivered on a range of cutting-edge initiatives.” Cutting edge initiatives and you have professional auditors doing data entry because the computer system doesn’t accept time to the second? Really?

Why is Alberta Transportation paying professional auditors to do hours of manual data entry? I can tell you why!

Professional auditors, who command professional wages due to their extensive experience and education, are currently dedicating hours and hours to manual data entry tasks, highlighting the inefficiency of the current process.

The current system ARC (assessment of regulatory compliance) is designed to accept time entries only in 15 minute increments of an hour (8.25, 8.50, 8.75), which is completely unfeasible and inefficient process in 2024. ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) record a driver's time in real-time by the second using data from the truck engine (ECM). Auditors are required to look up converted time information from a paper chart and then enter the data into ARC. In 2024 there exists a more advanced and streamlined solution that should be implemented.

During hours of service reviews, a 30-day sample of drivers RODS (Record of Duty Status) is reviewed and recorded. However, the existing computer program, ARC (Assessment of Regulatory Compliance) was not created to handle time by the second. The ARC system requires auditors to refer to a Conversion Chart in the ARC help manual to translate minutes into the appropriate decimal value for data entry. This cumbersome process not only consumes investigative resources but also contradicts the efficiency goals that technology is meant to enable.

Below is taken from the ARC help manual used by Investigator’s and Third Party Auditors (TPA).

All “Hours” fields in the New ARC take time in decimals of an hour only. For proper calculations please ensure the appropriate decimal of an hour is entered in New ARC.

Conversion Chart

Find the minutes you need to enter under the “Minutes” column and beside it in the right side column is the appropriate decimal conversion. Add this decimal conversion to the total full hours and you will have the appropriate time in decimals of an hour to enter in your field.

Consider this - a standard 5-driver audit sample can lead to 450–900 minutes or 7.5–15 hours simply being spent on manual data entry. These 7.5 – 15 hours represents just entering time, if a violation is detected a descriptive narrative of the violation is also required. If every calendar day has a violation, which happens all the time, that is a significant waste of resources.  ELD systems generate a CSV files in Excel format that contain all the relevant information needed by Investigators and Third Party Auditors.

It is evident that there is a clear need to modernize and integrate ELD systems into the audit process to streamline operations, improve accuracy, and save valuable time and resources. By transitioning to a more technology-driven approach, the Transportation and Economic Corridors sector can enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and ultimately improve overall regulatory compliance.

Transportation and Economic Corridors could have been a leader in technology based solutions but, shortsightedness in leadership will keep Alberta auditors using a abacus.  It is crucial that leadership drive progress and innovation within critical sectors like transportation auditing.

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