Q&A - Insecure Load

Q&A Imageevery week or so, I haul a load of dead fish to another town, in a 53 foot tanker. This trailer is loaded by the fish producers, then it is sealed, brought out to the highway, where I pick it up and begin my 3 hour trip to deliver.

there has been trouble, before I started, with product leaking from the trailer. Because of that, the trailer hatches were reconfigured, and there is containment totes for the main tank to vent into. 

When I hook up to the trailer, my pretrip portion, is under duress, as it is difficult to keep your lunch down, while making the appropriate checks. As far as the load goes, I check the hatches and the trap door for ANY leakage. 1 drop is a drop too many, as I must take the ferry to my destination, and I am only allowed on the very last boat, if there is zero leakage.

so this last trip, everything checks out, I did a walk around on the boat, and one about 1/2 way to the unload site. The road is very winding, lots of 20 and 30 km hairpins, so I run with my load lights on (unless someone is following) so oncoming traffic can see where my trailer axles are in relation to their lane. I never noticed anything out of the ordinary until i got to town. I usually stop and grab a coffee at McDicks, about 5 minutes from the place I unload. This night, I got out of the truck and just about gagged, the smell was so bad. One glance and I could see fish waste coming out of the top hatch. Boiling is a better word.

i jumped back in the truck and headed for the drop zone, passing a police officer as I turned into the site. As per normal, I scale in, and tonight I could see there was 2,000 kg more than every other trip. I came out of the scale shack and there is the constable, who issues me a ticket for insecure load. 

It it turns out that the main guy who usually loads, was away, and the new guy loaded what he thought was good, but didnt allow for expansion. The enzymes in the fish were activated by the motion of travel, and the tanker became like a pressure cooker. The top hatch was buckled outward, the catch cans were full, and the vents were jammed full of dead fish.

My question: I did all I could do, and then some, in my transportation of this product. I have hauled over 65 loads since 2015, and never had any spillage. There's no way to check the load, nowhere to scale it, and my airbag gauge didn't show anything excessive for weight. Because it was filled a bit too much, it began to eject product, and that had just happened 15 minutes from my destination.

is that an insecure load? It clearly fits the definition, but considering what it is, and how it expands, and that we have been doing it right until now, deals the whole thing some wild cards. 

I just don't want that on my license. Could I offer to give the amount of the citation to a charity of the officers preference? Is that acceptable?

thanks for your thoughts.

The way the law is written, the ultimate responsibility for the load rests on the driver of the truck that moves it. I'm probably not telling you anything that you don't know when I say this.

However, having said this, and given the nature of the process that you describe, there is an onus on the company to provide you with a legal load.

You don't tell us in your explanation who the owner of the trailer is, but I'm suspecting that it is not you.

Prohibitions respecting equipment and cargo

35.03 (1) In this section:

"business vehicle" has the same meaning as in section 237 of the Act;

"carrier" has the same meaning, in relation to both business vehicles and commercial vehicles, as in section 237 of the Act.

(2) A carrier must not permit a person to drive or operate on a highway a commercial vehicle or business vehicle carrying cargo if the manner in which the vehicle is equipped or its cargo secured contravenes any of sections 35.04 to 35.07.

(3) A person must not drive or operate on a highway a commercial vehicle or business vehicle carrying cargo if the manner in which the vehicle is equipped or its cargo secured contravenes any of sections 35.04 to 35.07.

(4) A person must not drive or operate on a highway a vehicle, other than a commercial vehicle or business vehicle, carrying cargo if the manner in which the vehicle is equipped or its cargo secured contravenes any of sections 35.04 to 35.07.

There is probably recourse available to you, likely via the Civil Resolution Tribunal, and for a very modest fee, you may wish to investigate that through Lawyer Referral.

Yes, I am aware of the difficulties pursuing issues like this when you are an individual or small business. The choice is always yours.

Finally, to deal directly with your last question, yes, like any other traffic ticket, the officer that issued it has discretion to rescind the ticket in the circumstances that you describe.

If there is a restorative justice program in your area you may be able to convince the officer to refer the incident to them for disposition as well.

The traffic court also has the ability to consider an alternative resolution, but it does depend on the judicial justice presiding. They cannot order this to take place, but if the officer and the driver agree, some will adjourn the case to allow the alternative to be accomplished and then return to court to have the ticket dismissed.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

Thanks for the reply.

i have yet to communicate with the Constable who issued the citation, but she seemed very level headed, and easy to talk to. I'll let you know what she decides.

So far, I have not had a reply to the 3 phone messages Inleft, asking for contact to discuss this ticket.

since time is slipping away, I sent the ticket in with a letter stating I wish to dispute it. 

I met the Constable before my court hearing, and explained how I had done my due diligence before, during, and after, this event. I went through the list of changes we had made with this trailer, to secure not only the product, but even the noxious emissions. I described how this spill was the result of an unqualified substitute worker who overfilled the trailer.

i offered to pay the fine if there was someway to avoid having the points on my record.

she withdrew the ticket.

thank you Constable H.

You are correct about my not being the owner of the load.

The company which does produce the load in question, has offered to write a letter accepting responsibility for the spill that night, (which was due to high enzyme level and an unqualified employee overloading the trailer) and outlining the fact that I am unable to check the load at all, other than the security of the hatch cover, and evidence of leakage at the unloading valve.

I have not heard back from the officer, nor have I received a court date for my dispute.

When that court date DOES arrive, I am hoping the officer will rewrite the ticket, with the owner of the load as the guilty party. They have already promised to pay the fine.

So, I received my notice in the mail, acknowledging my dispute of the ticket. To date, no court date has been decided, or at least I haven't heard anything back.