Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Problem

A buddy called and asked if I was busy?  No.  Did I want to go with him in his highway truck.  Sure.  Left the lower mainland about 1900 with 70,000 lbs of pipe heading for Ft. McMurray.  My buddy is driving.  Picked up 4 nails in a driver so ended up in Kal Tire in Kamloops at midnight (There was a kid working.)  Pull off for bunk time south of Clearbrook.  Morning, breakfast in Clearbrook.  About 30 km short of Valemount, do you want to drive?  Sure.  Truck is on autopilot (100 k), Friend is reading a book, brain not in gear.  Around a bend and two police cars, opposite sides of the road with the overheads on.  Total brain fart, I forget to slow to 70 ... and I know better.  Friend looks up, “Shit, slow down!”  Choice, hammer the brakes with 70,000 lbs of pipe that will want to keep going or ....??  If it was a child or imminent collision, absolutely ... but a wide open road and no real danger ...  Ok, so here he comes, overheads on.  I pull over on a clear straight stretch.  “License, registration and log book”  Oh crap, my log book (over a year back, is on my bedside table.  He wants Friend’s log book ... fine.   Almost 90 minutes checking and I’m apologising for the brain fart.  Then, a ticket for failure to slow (Fine), another for no log book (Ok, I should have known, I goofed) and another for no 14 day history and pre-trip entry in the non-existent log book.  Then he suspends my Class 1 for 72 hrs.  I’m not arguing but I’m getting pretty pissed.

Then he goes after my friend.  A ticket for a falsified log book (He had drawn a line in the book that extended to about 1000.  We were stopped at 0915.)  Two more tickets, my friend never did tell me what they were for.  And he suspends my friend’s Class 1 for 8 hrs.  Nobody going by has a spare driver so it’s a “Tow Truck” (A class 1 driver in a pick-up) for a 26 km drive into Valemount.  A motel so we can sit in silence and a $300 towing bill.  A little after 1800, my friend bails the truck out and leaves.  I spend the night on the bus to Chilliwack .... My God are they bad.

My record was spotless up until this charade.  Otherwise it’s as it happened.

The location was about 26 km south of Valemount on Hwy 5 where I pulled off onto the paved shoulder.   All of my wheels were at least 18” inside the shoulder line on a straight bit probably 500 meters from the last left hand bend.  Since neither of us could drive the truck, we rode in the pick-up into Valemount.  Also, the driver sent to drive the truck had never driven an I-shift .... (A Volvo auto-shifter transmission) so I had to give her a quick, verbal lesson!

I had taken the truck over in Blue River at the Husky station which is about 90 km south of Valemount.  The “accident scene” that I failed to slow for, was about 1.5 – 2 km before my stopping point, on a left hand bend, no oncoming traffic and only two police cars, well off on the shoulders, with the overheads on.  I can’t be sure but I probably pulled tight to or a bit over the centerline to give the cars a wide berth.  The 1.5 – 2 km before stopping was first, it took the police car a while to tuck in behind.  I noticed him right away (I use my mirrors) and signalled by flashing the clearance lights but continued at a slower pace until I found the straight bit .... maybe half a km?  That would mean I’d been driving for about 60 km that morning.

Oh yeah, did I mention how embarrassing it is to sit on the side of a highway with, by then, two police cars in attendance listening to the CB chatter about your company’s truck being stopped?  It was his truck but it’s got decals on it advertising the company he’s contracted to.  I’m sure they were made aware before we got into Valemount.

All this, and strong suggestions to shut up before I’m accused of lying to a police officer (I wasn’t), because of my brain fart?  I begin to see where my friend has very little respect for police officers.  By the way, my friend refused to let me compensate him for his losses.  Nor has he offered to have me along as a co-driver ever since.

Comments

Answer

On the flip side of this, the officer has identified a vehicle that fails to follow the slow down, move over rules and upon investigation finds a number of other laws that were being broken.

The time taken to do this investigation was significant to you and your friend and is, in a sense, a penalty all by itself as it is preventing you from doing your job and being paid for it. When I did a level II/III CVSA inspection I always found it to be a balance between doing the job properly and not holding up the commercial vehicle for a long time. Add an air brake inspection if some brakes appeared to be out of adjustment or other problems were noticed and it was easy to tie up a truck for an hour. I always felt like I was going as fast as I could, but when you are sitting in the driver's seat with a deadline I'm sure it seemed like an eternity.

Log books are an attempt at minimizing risk by keeping tired drivers off the road. No doubt that they are a bother for drivers to keep up (look at Division 37 MVAR!), but that's the way it is, it comes with the job. Logs are required to be up to date to the last change in duty status. Filling them out to a point in the future that has not yet occurred is an example of falsification even if it was done with the best of intent. It hasn't happened so it can't be there.

There's also no getting around the fact that if you are going to drive, you need to complete a log and keep the necessary history history with you. Not bringing it along if you did not intend to drive is fine, but you did have the choice of refusing to drive for this reason when the opportunity presented itself. By driving anyway, you accepted the risk of enforcement action.

I think that I may have finally gotten to what I interpret as the crux of your story, and that is "Was the enforcement action taken by the officers reasonable?" That is always a difficult question because it depends on your point of view. You would like to come out of this with as little paperwork as possible. A reasonable person would see sufficient reason here to do something and officers have personal standards that can vary for many reasons. The investigator ultimately decides to do what they are comfortable with and are overseen by both their supervisors and the court system. If they go overboard, they are also subject to oversight by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP or the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. If you feel that you have been dealt with unfairly, you have remedies to pursue.

As a professional driver, you are subject to a higher standard of care than the average driver. Being put out of service is permitted in law for log book violations and is one of these higher standards. The legislation does say that a peace officer may do this, not must, and again I see that as a judgment call to be made based on the situation.

The tow may have been over the top. The police do have the power to remove a parked vehicle in certain circumstances. If they are not met, then the vehicle may not be towed. Based on your description it sounds as if you could have put breakdown warnings out and arranged for another driver to remove the truck.

Without being a bug on the wall to have seen both sides of this encounter its difficult to say any more, but I can't resist the comment that I have met many professional drivers that I respect and some that I know should be in another line of work entirely. No doubt the same can be said for police officers, scale personnel or CVSE employees. It's a matter of personal perspective.

Maybe we can look at this from another perspective. If you were a company owner and employed this driver what would you do about this situation? You know that it will affect your company NSC record which could have serious consequences for your business. One consideration would be firing the driver. I don't know how difficult it would be to find a good job as a driver if this were to happen, but it could be more serious than the penalties that you have described here.

On the bright side, the advent of being able to dispute a ticket penalty in writing has made it a bit easier to have the situation reviewed by the courts with a minimum expenditure of time.

Response

Yes, I fully acknowledge that it was my error for failing to slow and, of course, the damn log book.  I wasn’t being paid for this though, it was just a ride with a buddy.  Of course, it wasn’t verifiable on the side of the road.  The first two tickets, absolutely fine .... I knew better and deserved them.  I thought the third was over the top but really got into thinking this was vindictive when they went after my friend.  I was fully ready to take responsibility for my goof-up ... but he was not responsible for what I did.

Answer

I usually tried to pick the best one or two violations and deal with them unless the situation was really deserving of more. This did not happen that often for me.

"driver" means a person who drives a commercial motor vehicle;

Unfortunately for you, the definition does not exclude you from the requirement for a log book because you are not being paid for driving. There are exemptions in 37.11 for personal use in certain circumstances and in the case of an emergency or adverse conditions. From your description, none of these apply.

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