Canada: Commercial Carriers: 5 FAQs About National Safety Code Points With Denis Sawyer

Last Updated: May 3 2018
Article by Denis Sawyer

For the most part, citizens travelling the roads of Alberta often don't involve an interaction with a member of Enforcement Services. With that said, in Alberta, our roads are patrolled by several different organizations which include, but are not limited to, Municipal Enforcement, the Alberta Sheriffs, the RCMP, and Department of Transportation officers. For commercial carriers and their drivers in Alberta, an interaction with these enforcement agencies are often a daily occurrence. The risks for commercial carriers often exceed those of a typical patron of our highways and streets. Therefore, the requirements for commercial carriers to drive on our roads exceeds that of a normal citizen and the Traffic Safety Act. Commercial Carriers must also meet a national standard of management and performance requirements supported by provincial regulations known as the National Safety Code.

The following are 5 frequently asked questions that commercial carriers often ask me regarding the National Safety Code and its "points" system that can potentially have a dramatic impact on their business and drivers.

How do 'National Safety Code Points' work and what impact would they have on my commercial carrier business?

The requirements to operate a commercial carrier is governed by the Traffic Safety Act and the National Safety Code to not only ensure the safety of the driver of these vehicles, but more importantly, everyone else on the road. The impact of violations regarding these rules and regulations can have a differing and damaging affect on a carrier including demerits and attributed National Safety Code Points. These points, much like demerits, can lead to things such as administrative suspensions and audits amongst many other penalties. The gradual accumulation of these points can have catastrophic impacts on your business. The most common violations of this type are usually related to things such as log book violations, inaccuracies within documents provided to enforcement officers, and issues regarding permits. Permits are require for a wide variety of carrier operations and specific rules apply to same. The most common issue with regards to permits relates to issues regarding the weight carried by any given carrier.

My commercial carrier is considered a Federal Carrier. Are there additional requirements I need to be aware of?

If you're considered a Federal Carrier, expectations are heightened even more. For example, let's say one of your drivers or you as an individual receives a ticket regarding a log book violation (or an equipment failure on inspection). Are you prepared to deal with the potential ramifications? Depending on the type of ticket your driver receives, and depending on the type of inspection conducted your driver's can potentially be given a warning for minor violations (ex. Light failure), a ticket regarding their documentation to being placed out of service. It is also crucial for your employees, drivers and subcontractors to have immediate access to logs, permits and their own credentials allowing them to conduct your duties.

What sort of fines are associated with violations regarding commercial carriers?

Fines in relations to offences contrary to the Traffic Safety Act can vary. Some violations do not carry any points to them, either by way of demerits and or NSC Points. Certain types of offences will only carry demerit points and no NSC points. It is crucial once you have been given a ticket to properly inform yourself to alleviate the effect of points on both your drivers abstract and the Carrier Profile of any given carrier.

What sort of tips can I give my drivers in regards to ensuring that our operation runs smoothly?

It all starts with the pre-trip inspection where a driver must inspect his vehicle in accordance with the regulations of your carrier. Small things like checking braking systems, hoses, and tires can go a long way in ensuring that your drivers and other patrons are safe on our roads. Creating a dossier where materials such as permits and documents are within hands reach can also expedite matters. Ensuring that your drivers understand things such as truck routes are also important in deciphering where your vehicles can and cannot operate. Many municipalities have local up to date information in regards to the above. The onus is on the driver to understand these rules.

I got a ticket, what can I expect from a service standpoint from Stringam LLP?

Getting a ticket is never pleasant; however, when you hire the Stringam team you can expect the following:

  • Court appearance will be taken care of;
  • Whenever possible negotiations will commence to alleviate the financial impact and also the other impacts these tickets may have on your commercial operation;
  • Conduct a trial on behalf of our client when required.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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