Commercial drivers have unique considerations in determining whether to dispute tickets issued from red-light cameras or intersection speed cameras in British Columbia.
A lot of people call me and ask whether they should dispute a red light camera ticket or an intersection speed camera ticket. And the answer for most people is, it depends. But if you are a commercial driver, there is good reason to dispute these tickets. This is because red light camera tickets and intersection speed enforcement tickets can affect your National Safety Code profile.
What is the National Safety Code?
The National Safety Code is a set of standards that commercial drivers must adhere to, in order to protect road safety. The set of standards apply across Canada, meaning that if you get a ticket in British Columbia but you have a driver’s license in Ontario, you can still be subject to National Safety Code profile entries.
What is the National Safety Code Carrier Profile?
For commercial drivers, a carrier profile is like a commercial driving record. Entries that have NSC violations associated with them are recorded on a driver’s carrier profile. But the profile also includes entries beyond traffic tickets. It also includes accidents, contraventions, CVSE inspections, and audit results.
Each incident has a specific number of points associated with it, much like driver penalty points for regular traffic tickets. So for regular red light camera tickets, or speed camera tickets, there are no points associated to it. However, if you are a commercial driver, there will be points recorded on your National Safety Code Carrier Profile for these violations. In BC, each of these tickets carries 4 NSC demerit points.
Although the points are recorded on the profile, the number of points for certain violations differs based on the province. A speeding ticket in BC may not result in the same number of NSC Carrier Profile points as in Ontario, or vice versa. However, the provinces and territories have an agreement, through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, which allows equivalency codes to equate the points between provinces.
This means that although the tickets in Ontario may result in different NSC Carrier points than in British Columbia, they will be treated as equivalent by the driver’s home jurisdiction.
The NSC Carrier Profile reports points received for a three-year period, meaning that drivers have to wait a long time for tickets, accidents, or out-of-service inspections to come off their record. This increases the importance of disputing a red light camera or speed enforcement camera ticket received in British Columbia.
What are the National Safety Code Ratings?
There are four ratings for commercial drivers regulated by the NSC. These are: satisfactory, satisfactory unaudited, conditional, and unsatisfactory. Some provinces, like British Columbia, have added additional ratings.
For drivers who have commercial licenses in British Columbia, there are six ratings. These are: Excellent; Satisfactory; Satisfactory Unaudited; Conditional; Conditional Unaudited; and Unsatisfactory Unaudited.
Those drivers who have unaudited status are drivers who have not had a facility audit of their vehicles, or who have applied for the first time for the NSC status. In British Columbia, the conditional status permits the carrier time to correct the defect while continuing to operate. An unsatisfactory status means that drivers and carriers are not permitted to drive. The unsatisfactory status indicates a driver or carrier whose safety fitness certificate has been revoked and no longer has insurance.
How are NSC demerit points calculated?
NSC demerit points come in three categories: contravention points; CVSA points; and accident points. CVSA points are issued for violations of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Authority rules and regulations, while accident points are relatively self-explanatory; they are issued to drivers who are in accidents.
The most complicated type of NSC demerit points are the contravention points. These points are related to violations for which the driver or owner has been deemed guilty of a commercial offence. So they are carried by either the driver or the carrier.
The contravention points are calculated in an unusual way. For commercial carriers, they are calculated based on the total number of points accumulated in a twelve-month period, divided by the carrier’s average fleet size in the same row. The NSC Rating that a carrier and driver is given is based on the provincial median rate of demerit points based on carrier fleet size.
Each province maintains its own regulations for issuing demerit points. Unfortunately, not every province has published details of the demerit points associated with each specific offence. This includes British Columbia.
What is a Compliance Review?
Carriers who are issued too many demerit points or who have a poor safety record may be subject to a compliance review. This can also occur at random, as a result of a complaint, an accident, or an out of service inspection.
Compliance reviews, if requested, are mandatory. Failure to participate in compliance reviews could result in suspension of a carrier’s NSC Safety Certificate and therefore suspension of the carrier permit.
This is because in order to operate in British Columbia as a commercial driver, the carrier must have a valid Safety Certificate from the NSC. If, after an audit, there is a safety concern — including drivers with too many points — the Safety Certificate can be cancelled.
For this reason, obtaining too many red light camera tickets, or speed camera tickets can affect your carrier’s status. As these tickets are issued to the carrier and not the driver, the carrier can have its Safety Certificate cancelled or suspended on the basis of the red light camera or speed camera tickets. Drivers who accumulate too many points for their carriers are often at risk of losing their jobs, due to the damage to the carrier’s NSC Profile.
Ontario and CVOR Points
Any driver with an Ontario commercial license is also subject to Ontario’s CVOR system. Points from traffic tickets in British Columbia can end up on a driver’s CVOR record. So if you are an Ontario driver with a red light camera or speed enforcement camera ticket in BC, you may end up losing your driving privileges in Ontario, and as a result, across Canada.
The interesting thing about tickets in Ontario that are issued to the driver or the operator is that they end up on the operator’s CVOR record. This again puts the operator, or carrier, at risk of a suspension of their permit, and places the driver at risk fo being terminated for causing this to happen.
Because of agreements between the provinces, any ticket that is issued in any other province or territory will be reported on the operator’s CVOR record. So just because you are a commercial driver from another province does not mean you will not be impacted by the red light camera or speed camera tickets.
Disputing a Red Light Camera or Speed Camera Ticket
If you received a red light camera ticket, or a speed camera ticket and you are a commercial driver, you need to seriously consider disputing the ticket. The number of NSC demerit points in BC for either of these tickets was recently increased to four points. This is a serious jump in consequences, and one that could put your job and your carrier company at risk of losing their license.
Contact our office to dispute a red light or speed camera ticket if you receive one.