British Columbia proposes fine increases for infrastructure crashes

March 14, 2024

Ryan Witkowski


Nearly four months after increasing fines and penalties for carriers involved in bridge and infrastructure crashes, British Columbia is proposing changes that would make those fines even higher.

On Tuesday, March 12, the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced proposed changes to the Commercial Transport Act that would allow courts to impose fines as high as $100,000 CAD to carriers who strike a bridge or overpass. On top of the increased fines, carriers could face up to 18 months in prison upon conviction for violations under the proposed changes.

“Infrastructure crashes pose a significant safety risk, having caused millions of dollars in provincial highway repairs, as well as lengthy highway closures and supply chain disruptions that impact all British Columbians,” the ministry said in a statement.

In December 2023, the provincial government rolled out higher fines and stiffer penalties for carriers involved in an infrastructure crash. At that time, British Columbia officials increased the fines to the highest amount current legislation would allow – making them the steepest of their kind in the country, with the proposed changes seeking to increase them even further.

“With these new penalties, we are taking the strongest action possible to keep our roads safe and to keep people, goods and services moving,” British Columbia Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming said in a statement. “This also sends a message to commercial truck drivers that they are responsible for the safe transportation of goods and services on our roads, and a lax attitude toward safety will not be tolerated.”

Since the higher fines were announced in December, there have been a total of five infrastructure crashes in British Columbia.

In all five instances, the carrier’s safety certificate was suspended throughout the course of an investigation. One of the carriers – Chohan Freight Forwarders – had its certificate canceled, ending the company’s ability to operate its 65-truck fleet in the province.

British Columbia officials said the laws surrounding infrastructure crashes have remained unchanged since the 1970s, adding that an “overwhelming majority of responsible truck drivers and the trucking industry have urged tougher action on the small number of irresponsible operators that have caused these crashes.”

Dave Earle, president and CEO of the British Columbia Trucking Association, echoed those sentiments.

“The British Columbia Trucking Association welcomes the legislative change by the province to hold carriers accountable,” Earle said. “Imposing stricter penalties for carriers supports road safety and helps protect infrastructure and ultimately enhances safety for everyone on our roads.”

Those efforts to curb infrastructure crashes could soon extend past the borders of British Columbia.

In February, the Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety tasked the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators with analyzing “the challenges with the current model for safety certificates … (and examining) potential options to address the issue of carriers with problematic safety records that continue to operate across jurisdictions despite prohibitive measures implemented within a province or territory.”

In addition to increased fines and penalties, the province is rolling out a pair of regulations later this year aimed at improving roadway safety.

In April, the province will begin requiring all commercial vehicles operating in British Columbia that were manufactured after 1994, with a gross vehicle rating of more than 11,793 kilograms (26,000 pounds), to have a speed limiter installed and activated. Additionally, beginning June 1, the province will require that an in-cab warning device be installed in all commercial vehicles with dump boxes. LL