Q&A - Unlicensed Vehicle Strays from Private Roads

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Our strata has about a mile of private road and we have our own pickup truck rigged up for snow plowing. The vehicle is not licensed as the intent is for use solely on our posted private road. However, I have come to learn that the operator, as a favor to neighbours outside our strata, has taken to plowing some of the public road, an area rarely addressed on a timely basis by MOT plows. My concern is potential liability of working the public road. Our truck is single purpose and otherwise serves no other function. It seems that one can run a front end loader on a public road and my recollection is that it may have only a reflective triangle, or perhaps even a flashing orange light.



As soon as any motor vehicle is used on a public road (aka: highway) it must be licensed and insured as required by the Motor Vehicle Act. The front end loader that you are referring to is probably not displaying the "X" plates required for an industrial machine or they are displayed in a place where you did not see them. It is not impossible that it is being operated illegally as well.

Your snow plowing pickup does not need to be licensed when it is used only on the private road, but I hope that the strata does something to insure it, even for use only on the private road. If something were to happen and it was not insured, I expect that the strata itself would be required to pay the bill if the driver was at fault. Depending on your contract of insurance, you may find that insurance of this type would not cover the vehicle's use on a public road.

Regardless of the fact that the driver is being a good neighbour, the strata is attracting significant liability if something were to go wrong. This could include inadvertant damage to the neighbour's property as well as a collision on the public road. If the plow truck cannot be kept off the public highway for 100% of it's use, I would suggest that it be licensed and insured. If not, then the driver needs to be kept off the public highway, no excuses for any reason.

Please note that my experience is in traffic law, not legal liability. You may wish to recommend that the strata consult a lawyer if this continues.

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