Author: Jill McBeth
Date: June 14, 2024


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.