CALGARY, Alta. — Between April and October of last year, 409 different trucking firms either received warning letters, were audited or had their operating licences revoked because they broke too many rules.
“We know there are carriers out there that frankly don’t give much attention to safety,” Roger Clarke, executive director for highway safety with Alberta Infrastructure, tells local media. “They’ll do what’s necessary to win the game, to make money, and they’ll do it at the expense of safety.”
In an effort to put an end to these practices, the province began using a special point system about two years ago to keep track of violations among transport operators.
Under the system, trucking companies gain points each time they or their drivers are caught breaking the rules to a maximum of 66 points.
When a company exceeds 40 per cent of its allowable point total, Alberta Infrastructure sends out a warning letter.
At 65 per cent of the allowable total, a committee reviews the company’s operations and an official audit could be launched.
The penalties grow more severe until the company exceeds its total allowable points. At this time, the province may suspend the operating licence of the fleet and demand immediate action to fix all problems.
Clarke explains the goal of the point system is not to put trucking businesses out of work. Rather, it’s to help trucking companies change their ways and improve overall safety.
According to the latest Alberta Infrastructure statistics, 48 people were killed and another 606 injured in truck-related collisions in Alberta in 1999.
However, Al Smythe, president of the Alberta Trucking Association, maintains that the vast majority of truckers are safe drivers who obey all the rules of the road.
“If you do the math, you see a very small percentage of the industry is acquiring points,” Smythe says.