Left-lane ban on Coq welcome, but BCTA says focus needs to be on chaining up

by Truck West

HOPE, B.C. – The B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) says the move to prohibit commercial trucks from the left lane on Snowshed Hill on the Coquihalla does not address the main cause of collisions on the mountain pass.

Though recognizing the pilot project as a creditable effort to improve safety and aid with traffic flow, BCTA president and CEO Dave Earle told Truck West the focus needs to be on chaining up.

“While the intent to maintain a clear path in the left lane is laudable, this pilot does not address the primary cause of highway closures during severely inclement weather, which is the failure of some drivers to chain up,” said Earle. “Unless this pilot is accompanied by significant regulatory change and increased enforcement, we are concerned that all the pilot may do is ensure it is only commercial vehicles trapped behind those few drivers who refuse to comply with the law.”

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure made the announcement this week that commercial trucks would not be permitted to use the left lane on Snowshed Hill between Box Canyon and Zopkios during the pilot. Other routes in the interior of the province could also see the same measures put in place.

For now, the focus is being put on Snowshed Hill because the government indicated that B.C.’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement places a large part of its efforts into this location during the winter months when inclement weather can wreak havoc.

“By restricting trucks from the left lane, we will be better able to maintain traffic flow (including emergency vehicles) and plowing operations, as well as significantly reduce the time it takes to re-establish the flow of traffic after a vehicle incident/closure,” the ministry’s statement said.

To help address the issue of drivers chaining up, the new Box Canyon chain-up area is now open, which is located on the Coquihalla Highway before Snowshed Hill.

“We’re expecting commercial vehicles to use this facility when snow falls on the Coquihalla, in advance of heading over the summit,” the government stated.

The location can hold up to 70 commercial vehicles at one time and can accommodate oversized loads.

Earle pointed out that it is not uncommon to find sections of highway in North America where commercial vehicles are not permitted in the left-most lane. He added that it is the BCTA’s and its members’ primary concern to ensure the safety of commercial drivers and the motoring public.

“This pilot is intended to address safety and efficiency on one of the most difficult mountain passes in B.C., and is welcome,” said Earle. “It should assist in clearing blocked vehicles and should mitigate disruptions to light vehicles.”

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  • Maybe the centre lane on Hwy 401 should be restricted to cars only, as a certain element of truck drivers seems to think that it is there right to impede other commercial drivers of using it as a passing lane. That way, we can drive courteously as they do in Europe….and everyone is happy…….Seasoned old timers get my drift ?

    • Hi John,
      I get it I drive the 401 everyday just drove in this morning I had to move into the far left lane to pass a truck just sitting in the middle lane nothing around them.(I was in a car) happens all the time as John says guys this is a passing lane only if you are not passing get out of it. Yes we can all point the finger at other drivers and lay blame with car drivers. We are the paid professional’s and it starts with us to set the example. Also if you are sitting the middle lane then other vehicles will likely pass you on the right that’s the last place you want them move over and put a stop to it. Well that’s my early morning moan over with drive safe if the government wont recognize this as a skilled profession it does not mean we should prove them right.

  • Perhaps more enforcement of trucking companies not using proper winter drive tires in BC would also help. Have seen various trucks at truck stops that would not have a hope of climbing any of BCs mountain passes with the bald tires they are running.

  • If weather is very harsh and snow white out chaining up will not help so park and wait for the salt truck to come around that way you still dry and you could rest while waiting.

  • That middle lane is a world wide problem. Drive right pass left. When finished passing move back right. Don’t hold up others, or force them to pass you on the right. But I guess I’m mostly preaching to the choir here. I thought B.C. may have had drivers educated with the keep right , let others pass, but even that didn’t do it.