REGINA, Sask. – A Saskatchewan driver says the way Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) records abstracts puts truckers at a disadvantage compared to their colleagues in neighbouring provinces.
Although Barry Gamble admits he has been involved in two accidents in recent years, he insists neither one was his fault. Still, in Saskatchewan the no-fault accidents appear on his drivers’ abstract.
The same isn’t true for drivers in provinces such as Alberta, where abstracts don’t include accident information.
So Gamble is worried prospective employers will get the wrong impression about his driving abilities since there is no way to have accidents which weren’t his fault removed from the abstract.
“When I go to apply for a job it’s still on my record and if I have another accident, they will say there’s a pattern here and it really doesn’t have anything to do with my driving ability,” Gamble said. “If I had an Alberta plate on my truck, I wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Although Gamble is currently happily employed, he is worried about the fate of himself and other truckers who find themselves in his situation. Many employers won’t even consider hiring a trucker with two accidents on his abstract, said Gamble, adding there’s no way to prove he wasn’t at fault.
“The other person involved in the accident could’ve been drunk or driving dangerously, but it doesn’t matter,” Gamble said. “They make no effort in trying to reconstruct the scene of the accident so now I’m stuck with an accident on my record.”
For its part, SGI insists that’s not exactly the way it works.
“Here in Saskatchewan, the driver abstract system for everyone does include all incidents,” said SGI communications spokesperson, Julianne Jack. “We consider it a complete record of any incident.”
She said insurance rates aren’t affected for a driver who isn’t at fault for the accident and they can still qualify for the province’s safe driver recognition discount.
But it’s not the insurance rates that concern Gamble, it’s his ability to find employment in the future.
“For the ordinary Joe Blow, it doesn’t matter, but for me it’s my ticket and it’s gotta stay clean,” he said.
Jack countered accidents appearing on driver’s abstracts do differentiate between collisions.
“When something goes on it shows the person was over 50 per cent at fault or it was just a collision, so we do have an identifier on collisions,” she said.
But Gamble still believes the province doesn’t do enough to determine the actual events that led to the accident and is too quick to simply find both parties to be 50 per cent responsible.
That’s exactly what happened following an incident Gamble was involved in on Hwy. 2 in Alberta. According to him, a motorist driving alongside his truck claimed the empty trailer suddenly lurched into his lane, damaging his van.
But the motorist’s story changed several times and the insurance adjuster agreed Gamble was not at fault, he said.
But even though he didn’t end up having to pay a fine, the accident remains on his abstract as a 50/50 collision.
“I have no avenue of appeal to get this off my record,” he said. “I don’t think SGI looks at me as an individual.”
Gamble thinks SGI should do more detailed investigations of even minor accidents involving professional drivers so their livelihood isn’t impacted by an accident that was beyond their control.
“They need to get an in-depth analysis of what happened at the accident,” he said.
“The system SGI has is not really fair for the professional driver. It’s someone sitting in an office saying you’re at fault, end of story. There’s nowhere to go to try to get your record straightened out.”
Gamble is envious of his colleagues in Alberta, where abstracts only contain information about violations such as speeding tickets, hours-of-service infractions and other fines under the Highway Traffic Act (of which Gamble says he has none).
“It’s almost tempting to move to Alberta just to get the clean abstract!” he said.