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.  

I wasn’t going write a blog about drugs and alcohol because I agree that a commercial driver should never be impaired while driving a commercial vehicle. However, I decided to write this blog because of how Alberta handles commercial drivers outside of the normal criminal charges. I understand the spirit and intent of the regulation and I agree with it. Where this regulation has challenges is the lack of immediate roadside testing. Commercial carriers and drivers need to be aware of these rules. Remember the Sheriffs are here for enforcement not education.  

This regulation lives in the Traffic Safety Act and the number is TSA 88.02(2)(A) if you want to check my work. If you are the driver of a commercial vehicle, there is zero tolerance on the consumption of drugs or alcohol. The immediate roadside sanction empowers Peace Officers to suspend a driver's license for three days and issue an administrative penalty (ticket) based solely on reasonable grounds to believe that the driver has consumed substances. This means that a formal test is not mandatory, leaving room for subjective judgment by enforcing officers.

Peace Officers in Alberta with powers under this regulation are:

The driver of a commercial vehicle gets zero tolerance on the consumption of drugs or alcohol. This means if a driver had a couple of beers within a few hours of driving, the driver will not be at a zero BAC. A 250 lb man after 2 beers will need approximately 3.5 hours to reach a zero BAC. There are a lot of commercial vehicles that are used for both work and commercial. Drivers need to be reminded that commercial vehicles have zero tolerance unlike a personal vehicle.

It is important for commercial drivers to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under this regulation. Despite the lack of a required formal test, drivers have the option to demand a test TSA 88.11(1) to prove their sobriety if they believe they have been unjustly accused. Choosing to accept the penalty without contesting it could have long-lasting repercussions on the driver's record and the carrier will have points on the carrier profile.

If a driver does get an administrative penalty under this regulation there is only 7 days to appeal. This is not a criminal charge and the point is to have the matter resolved quickly. Any appeal is heard by an adjudicator, not a judge. It is crucial for drivers to understand that this is a serious matter and not simply a minor infraction like an overweight ticket or having a low tire.

I’m 100% against any form of impaired driving, and I also recognize people screw up. During Roadcheck all the inspectors are doing inspections because inspectors need inspection numbers to stay CVSA certified. If Roadcheck 2024 focus is on drugs and alcohol, let’s assume all the additional inspectors are looking for drugs and alcohol.  Make sure your drivers understand this isn’t a speeding ticket.

What is a Tractor Protection System? And what does it do?

The tractor protection system is like a parachute. If the trailer becomes separated or the air system fails, the trailer brakes engage so the trailer doesn’t continue traveling like a missile and kills people. The tractor protection system works with the air system to control the trailer. When the air supply to the trailer is cut off, the tractor protection valve closes, which activates and applies the brakes on the trailer.

The tractor protection system has 2 valves:

The trailer supply valve (TSV)

The trailer supply valve (TSV) is a a push/pull red button on the dashboard and the glad hand on the trailer is also red.

The other is the tractor protection valve (TPV)

The tractor protection valve (TPV) is a a push/pull yellow button on the dashboard. The TPV is also called a ‘towing vehicle’ protection valve and the glad hand on the trailer is blue.

When there is no trailer, the driver opens (pushes in) the tractor supply valve (TSV). When a trailer is being towed the driver opens the trailer supply valve (TSV) (pushes in). The trailer supply valve (TSV) can also be used to set the trailer parking brakes.

In my experience doing level 1 inspections, the Roadside Inspection/Test Procedures for the Tractor Protection System can be a difficult concept to explain to some drivers. Most drivers learn this in school and never use it again until they get pulled over for a level 1. It’s a good idea to have a refresher in Roadside Inspection/Test Procedures in real life not just a email to all the fleet before Roadcheck. Any super truckers in your fleet should be teaching this, leverage that knowledge and experience. 

Conducting the tractor protection system test

The goal of this test is to confirm that the Towing Vehicle Protection System is functioning properly in the event of a trailer separation. This test is done under pressure with the engine off and is conducted as follows:

trailer supply valve TSV – red button and tractor protection valve TPV – yellow button.

1. The system must be working at normal operating.

2. Wheels chocked and all brakes must be released, push the red and yellow buttons on the dash in.

3. Remove gladhand couplings to simulate a trailer separation. Driver will remove the gladhands and put them on the deck.

4. Air will start to escape immediately from the gladhand line. In most cases the air will stop escaping immediately and in some cases the air will escape and then stop.  The tractor protection valve TPV should close once the gauge pressure (on the dashboard) drops to 20 psi (138 kPa). If the tractor protection valve TPV fails to close before pressure gets below 20 psi (138 kPa), the power unit is defective and that is an OOS condition.

5. When the gladhands are disconnected, the trailer emergency (spring) brakes must also apply automatically. If the trailer emergency (spring) brakes do not engage the trailer breakaway system is defective. The trailer is in an OOS condition.

6. When the gladhands are disconnected, the trailer system must close automatically. Check the gladhand on the trailer for air bleeding back. Air leaking from the gladhand on the trailer indicates that the trailer spring brake control valve is defective. The trailer has a violation but, not an OOS. 

7. When the air has stopped the driver will apply the brakes and hold it. 

8. Any air escaping from either gladhand line the Towing Vehicle Protection System is defective. This is an OOS condition.

9. If there is air escaping from either the supply/emergency or service/control gladhand line of any vehicle equipped to tow an airbrake equipped trailer indicates the unit has a defective tractor protection system and is an OOS condition.


Take the time to refresh your driver’s skills with this inspection process because it is very easy to get an Out of Service for a air leak.