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.

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.  

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Table 4: Data Diagnostic Events and Malfunctions

Data diagnostic events and malfunctions are a continuous source of annoyance for carriers and drivers. Without an interpretation guide from Alberta Transportation industry must refer to the Federal Hours of Service Regulation and the Technical Standard.  

ELD Refresher

ELDs record and transmit data, that is it. ELDs are programmed with parameters to account for real life and allow for little variances. For example, the ELD will start recording when the vehicle reaches 8 kms a hour. ELDs are required to record certain pieces of data that are regulated in the Technical Standard. If any pieces of data are missing, and the driver does not manually input the missing data the ELD will record a data diagnostic event.

Connection Concerns

The majority of data diagnostic events are due to connectivity issues. ELDs rely on technology and technology can fail. ELDs can be hardwired or connected via Bluetooth. We all have cellphones that rely on the existing cellular network. Think about a ELD like a cellphone. When you fly to Mexico for vacation you turn off your phone or go into airplane mode for the duration of the flight. Your life does not disappear for those 5 hours, your still getting text messages and comments on your Instagram. The phone holds on to the data in the cloud and when you land and reconnect to a network all the data is waiting. ELDs work the exact same way. When a ELD reconnects to the network and data is missing or the data isn’t correct the ELD will record a data diagnostic event.

Carrier Due Diligence and Accountability

Data diagnostic events turn into malfunctions when not resolved. The driver and the company are aware of data diagnostic events and malfunctions due to:

  1. The ELD alerts the driver via a flashing light or a beeping device
  2. The company is alerted on the carrier dashboard
  3. The ELD prompts the driver to acknowledge and confirm that no link to the engine ECM may have an impact on data recording and compliance to current HOS regulations

Data diagnostic events can self-clear if conditions are met. Example the ELD has a period of no connection to Bluetooth. The device will record a data diagnostic event and when the device is reconnected the event is cleared. It is still recorded as a data diagnostic event because the event happened but, the event will be cleared and it is no longer a compliance issue.

The Federal Hours of Service Tampering:

86 (3) No motor carrier shall request, require or allow any person to, and no person shall, disable, deactivate, disengage, jam or otherwise block or degrade a signal transmission or reception, or re-engineer, reprogram or otherwise tamper with an ELD so that the device does not accurately record and retain the data that is required to be recorded and retained.

A ELD that is unplugged or disconnected from the internet is not accurately recording or retaining the data that is required to be recorded and retained as per the Hours of Service 86(3)

Table 4: Compliance Malfunction and Data Diagnostic Event Codes:

P          Power compliance malfunction

E          Engine synchronization compliance malfunction  

T          Timing compliance malfunction

L          Positioning compliance malfunction

R         Data recording compliance malfunction

S          Data transfer compliance malfunction

O         Other ELD detected malfunction

1          Power data diagnostic event

2          Engine synchronization data diagnostic event

3          Missing required data elements data diagnostic event

4          Data transfer data diagnostic event

5          Unidentified driving records data diagnostic event

6          Other ELD identified diagnostic event

Code 1: Power Data Diagnostic Event

Problem: The ELD is not fully powered/functional within one minute of the vehicle’s engine receiving power. “Fully powered” requires that the driver connect to the vehicle with the ELD within one minute of the vehicle powering on.

Solution: Ensure that the driver connects the ELD to a vehicle within one minute of the vehicle powering on.

Code P: Power Compliance Malfunction

Problem: The ECM connection is unplugged from the ELD and there is driving time over 30 minutes over 24-hour period.

Solution: Ensure that the ELD is connected to the vehicle ECM whenever the vehicle is in motion. Drivers should follow the Malfunction criteria in the Hours of Service 78.

Code 2: Engine Synchronization Data Diagnostic Event

Problem: The ELD has lost ECM connectivity and can no longer acquire data within five seconds. Connectivity must be maintained between the ELD and the ECM while the vehicle is powered on.

Solution: Ensure that the ELD remains connected to the vehicle ECM while the vehicle is powered on.

Code E: Engine Synchronization Malfunction

Problem: The ELD loses connection to the vehicle ECM for a cumulative 30+ minutes of missing data: GPS, VIN, date/time, engine hours.

Solution: Ensure that the ELD remains connected to the vehicle while the vehicle is powered on. Engine Synchronization Malfunctions will clear on their own after 24 hours have passed since the last logged malfunction. Drivers should follow Malfunction criteria in the Hours of Service 78.

Code T: Timing Compliance Malfunction

Problem: The time on the ELD varies more than 10 minutes from the designated home terminal time.

Solution: The ELD will automatically resync its local clock to the GPS time once it becomes valid. If the driver is using the ELD on a cellphone disable the Automatic Time Zone Detection or Automatic Time Zone Adjustment function. Drivers should follow Malfunction criteria in the Hours of Service 78.

Code L: Positioning Compliance Malfunction

Problem:  The ELD cannot obtain a valid GPS position within five miles of the last valid position for over 60 minutes of driving in a 24-hour period.

Solution: Ensure a satellite GPS connection. Try moving the ELD near a clear, unobstructed view to the sky. Reboot the ELD to re-establish a satellite GPS connection.  Enter locations manually, manual locations will indicate a M in the latitude and longitude fields of the RODS and the CSV.

Positioning Compliance Malfunctions will clear after 24 hours have passed since the last logged malfunction. Drivers should follow Malfunction criteria in the Hours of Service 78.

Code 3: Missing Required Data Elements Data Diagnostic Event

Problem: There is missing data: GPS, VIN, date/time, engine hours in the ELD event record.

Solution: Ensure that the ELD remains connected to the vehicle while the vehicle is powered on.

Code R: Data Recording Compliance Malfunction

Problem: The ELD can no longer record new event data due because it is full.

Solution: Ensure there’s an active internet connection before using Bluetooth to connect the ELD with the ECM. Keep the driver ELD app open for the data to transfer to the server. Do not force close the ELD app. Drivers should follow Malfunction criteria in the Hours of Service 78.

Code 4: Data Transfer Data Diagnostic Event

Problem: The internal monitoring of the data fails and is unable to send the output file data.

Solution: Ensure there’s an active internet connection before using Bluetooth to connect the ELD with the ECM. Keep the driver ELD app open for the data to transfer to the server.

Code S: Data Transfer Compliance Malfunction

Problem: When a ELD records a data transfer data diagnostic event, the ELD increases the frequency of the monitoring to check every 24-hour period. If the ELD stays in the unconfirmed data transfer mode following the next three consecutive monitoring checks, the ELD must record a data transfer compliance malfunction.

Solution: Ensure there’s an active internet connection before using Bluetooth to connect the ELD with the ECM. Keep the driver ELD app open for the data to transfer to the server. Do not force close the ELD app. Drivers should follow Malfunction criteria in the Hours of Service 78.

Code 6: Other ELD identified diagnostic event

Technical Standard 4.6.1.8 Other Technology-Specific Operational Health Monitoring. In addition to the required ELD monitoring the ELD provider may implement additional, data diagnostic detection and may use the ELD’s data diagnostic status indicator to alert the ELD’s non-compliant state to the driver.

Solution: Ensure that the ELD remains connected to the vehicle while the vehicle is powered on.

Code O: Other ELD detected malfunction.

Technical Standard 4.6.1.8 Other Technology-Specific Operational Health Monitoring. In addition to the required ELD monitoring the ELD provider may implement additional, malfunction detection and may use the ELD’s malfunction status indicator to alert the ELD’s malfunction or state to the driver.

Solution: Ensure that the ELD remains connected to the vehicle while the vehicle is powered on. Drivers should follow Malfunction criteria in the Hours of Service 78.

Code 5: Unidentified Driving Records Data Diagnostic Event

Problem: There is over 30 minutes of unidentified driving time for the vehicle over the last 24 hours. If the vehicle is moving and there is no driver logged in, the ELD records that time separately.

Solution: The solution for unidentified driving is for the carrier to assign unidentified driving time. Unidentified driving data diagnostic events will clear when the cumulative time for unidentified driving is less than 15 minutes for the current day plus the last 7 or 14 previous days. That means once all the unidentified time is cleared up the malfunction clears up. A truck driving down the street with no driver behind the wheel would be considered a problem, why is a ELD recording a truck with no driver behind the wheel not a problem?

Unidentified Driving Records Data Diagnostic Events will clear when the cumulative time for unidentified driving is less than 15 minutes for the current day plus the last 7 or 14 previous days.

The Federal Hours of Service Tampering:

86 (3) No motor carrier shall request, require or allow any person to, and no person shall, disable, deactivate, disengage, jam or otherwise block or degrade a signal transmission or reception, or re-engineer, reprogram or otherwise tamper with an ELD so that the device does not accurately record and retain the data that is required to be recorded and retained.

A ELD that is unplugged or disconnected from the internet is not accurately recording or retaining the data that is required to be recorded and retained as per the Hours of Service 86(3)

Contraventions Regulations (ScheduleXVIII): SOR/2023-137

86(3) (a) Tamper with ELD $1000.00 – driver

86(3)(b) Request, require or allow person to tamper with ELD – $2000.00 carrier

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles are subject to roadside inspections and NSC Standard 15 audit inspections. If a driver or vehicle is placed out of service, the driver and/or carrier would be subject to a written warning, tickets and/or points on the Carrier Profile. If the non-compliance is serious the driver and/or vehicle would be placed Out Of Service (OOS) until corrected. These are considered HOS violations. Not all provinces and territories follow the Federal Contraventions Regulations (Schedule XVIII): SOR/2023-137, which means that penalties for violations can vary depending on where the violation occurs. The penalties outlined in the contravention regulations are different for the driver and carrier involved in the violation. Specifically, carrier penalties are set at double the amount of driver penalties in order to ensure that responsibility is appropriately distributed between the driver and carrier. 

My top 5 common and avoidable driver ELD (Electronic Logging Device) HOS violations: 

  1. ELD device not mounted in view of the driver (roadside detected violation)

77 (1) A motor carrier shall ensure that each commercial vehicle that it operates is equipped with an ELD that meets the requirements of the Technical Standard and shall ensure that it is mounted in a fixed position during the operation of the commercial vehicle and is visible to the driver when the driver is in the normal driving position. Contraventions Regulations (Schedule XVIII): SOR/2023-137 suggested penalty is $1000.00. 

How to avoid: Install a $20.00 magnetic cell phone holder if the ELD is on the driver’s phone and not a wired connection. 

  1. Missing ELD information packet (roadside detected violation)

77 (7) The motor carrier shall ensure that each commercial vehicle that it operates carries an ELD information packet. Contraventions Regulations (Schedule XVIII): SOR/2023-137 suggested penalty is $600.00. 

How to avoid: Ensure each CMV contains an information packet that contains; (a) a user’s manual; (b) an instruction sheet for the driver describing the data transfer mechanisms supported by the ELD and the steps required to generate and transfer the data with respect to the driver’s hours of service to an inspector; (c) an instruction sheet for the driver describing the measures to take in the event that the ELD malfunctions; and (d) a sufficient number of records of duty status to allow the driver to record the information required under section 82 for at least 15 days.

  1. Unidentified driving time (audit and roadside detected violation)

77 (8) The motor carrier shall ensure that the driver records the information related to their record of duty status and the driver is required to record that information in a complete and accurate manner.

78.1 A motor carrier shall create and maintain a system of accounts for ELDs that is in compliance with the Technical Standard and that (a) allows each driver to record their record of duty status in a distinct and personal account; and (b) provides for a distinct account for the driving time of an unidentified driver.

Technical Standard 4.1.5 Non-Authenticated Driving of a CMV

87 (1) A motor carrier shall monitor the compliance of each driver with these Regulations.

Contraventions Regulations (Schedule XVIII): SOR/2023-137 suggested penalty 77(8) is $500.00 for the driver $1000.00 for the carrier. 78.1 suggested penalty is $1000.00 for the carrier. 87(1) suggested penalty is $2000.00 for the carrier.

How to avoid: Carrier to assign all unidentified time.

  1. Data Diagnostic Events (roadside and audit detected violation)

Technical Standard 4.6.1 Compliance Self-Monitoring, Malfunctions and Data Diagnostic Events Table 4 

86 (3) No motor carrier shall request, require or allow any person to, and no person shall, disable, deactivate, disengage, jam or otherwise block or degrade a signal transmission or reception, or re-engineer, reprogram or otherwise tamper with an ELD so that the device does not accurately record and retain the data that is required to be recorded and retained.

Contraventions Regulations (Schedule XVIII): SOR/2023-137 suggested penalty 86 (3) is $2000.00 for the carrier.

Data diagnostic events: Table 4 Technical Standard

(Code 1) Power Data Diagnostic Event: Problem ELD is not fully powered/functional within one minute of the vehicle’s engine receiving power. How to avoid: Plug the ELD in.

(Code 2) Engine Synchronization Data Diagnostic Event: Problem the ELD loses ECM connectivity to any of the required data sources and can no longer acquire updated values for the required ELD parameters within five seconds of the need. Connectivity must be maintained while the vehicle is powered on. How to avoid/ fix the connectivity where the ELD loses ECM connectivity to the required data sources, you can try the following steps:

(Code 3) Missing Required Data Elements Data Diagnostic Event: Problem there are missing data elements (like GPS location) in the ELD event record. How to avoid: Instruct drivers to input missing information when ELD prompted.

(Code 4) Data Transfer Data Diagnostic Event: Problem the internal monitoring of the data transfer test fails and is unable to send the output file data. How to correct: consult with technical support

(Code 5) Unidentified Driving Records Data Diagnostic Event: Problem there is over 30 minutes of unidentified driving time for the vehicle over the last 24 hours. Unidentified Driving Records Data Diagnostic Events will clear when the cumulative time for unidentified driving is less than 15 minutes. How to correct: Assign all unidentified driving time.

  1. Malfunctions (roadside and audit detected violation)

Technical Standard 4.6.1 Compliance Self-Monitoring, Malfunctions and Data Diagnostic Events Table 4 

(Code P) Power Compliance Malfunction 

(Code E) Engine Synchronization Malfunction 

(Code L) Positioning Compliance Malfunction 

(Code T) Timing Compliance Malfunction – Drivers using a smartphone as a device must disable the Automatic Time Zone Detection or Automatic Time Zone Adjustment.

(Code R) Data Recording Compliance Malfunction

(Code S) Data Transfer Compliance Malfunction 

How to avoid: Malfunctions occur when Data Diagnostic Events are not corrected, fix the data, avoid the Malfunction. When a Malfunction is detected, the driver is to stop, switch to paper logs and follow the Malfunction criteria 78 (2)(3)(4). 

That’s my top 5 and the easiest to avoid and correct. In my experience 75% of issues are driver training and safety officers not understanding how ELDs work. It’s not the device, the ELD records data, the ELD does not interpret what that data means. With ELDs providing a digital record of a driver’s activity it is important for carriers to recognize the level of liability that entails if your driver is involved in a serious incident. 

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