Lawmakers in Manitoba are working to keep trucking companies with poor safety records off Canada’s roadways.

Legislatures in the province recently introduced an amendment targeting “chameleon carriers” — trucking companies that close and reopen under a different name to escape previous safety violations.

“The proposed legislation would strengthen authority to keep ‘chameleon carriers’ off roads,” said Doyle Piwniuk, Manitoba’s transportation and infrastructure minister, in a news release. “The amendments specifically target unsafe carriers and will have minimal impact on carriers that comply with safety regulations and have satisfactory on-road performance.”

The Manitoba government’s proposed changes to the Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Heavy Vehicle Safety) could assign a conditional safety rating or not hand out a safety certificate altogether to suspected chameleon carriers.

Manitoba’s current rules do not give authorities the ability to refuse issuing safety certificates under such circumstances.

Under the proposed rule changes, new carriers must identify a certified compliance officer and submit a safety plan before being issued a safety fitness certificate. Existing carriers with a conditional safety rating must certify a compliance officer within 180 days, according to the legislation.

Aaron Dolyniuk, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association, supports changing the law to crack down on unsafe operators. 

“It allows the province to ensure the carrier’s history follows the ownership to another company,” Dolyniuk told FreightWaves. “Chameleon carriers have been identified as an issue across Canada.”

One of the cases that prompted lawmakers to change trucking industry regulations was the April 2018 crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey league team in Edmonton, Alberta. Sixteen people were killed and 13 seriously injured when the Broncos’ bus collided with a tractor-trailer belonging to Adesh Deol Trucking. 

A few days after the accident, the owner of the trucking company connected to the deadly crash opened up a new business under a different name. 

Sukhmander Singh, the owner and director of Adesh Deol Trucking, eventually pleaded guilty to five charges related to the hockey team accident, admitting he failed to comply with federal and provincial safety regulations.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the Adesh Deol Trucking driver involved in the accident, was sentenced to eight years in prison and is currently facing deportation after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving charges.

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