Canadian fleet shut down after six bridge crashes

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Chohan Freight Forwarders, a 65-truck fleet based in British Columbia in Canada, has been shut down by the province's Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming following a troubling pattern of trucks crashing into infrastructure. 

After another of the trucks running under Chohan's authority struck a bridge on December 28, Fleming laid down the law with some strong language. 

“This needs to stop. We know that the vast majority of commercial drivers in B.C. operate safely and responsibly. However, some operators are not getting the message," he wrote in an official statement:

In the interest of public safety, B.C.’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement branch (CVSE) has used its new powers to suspend the safety certificate for Chohan Freight Forwarders Ltd. This means the company’s entire fleet of 65 commercial vehicles will be unable to operate in B.C. as of 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time) on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023. Furthermore, the driver and the carrier responsible will face the toughest fines in the country. The outcome of the investigation could lead to further action. This suspension is a result of the company’s unwillingness or inability to operate safely within the province, following its sixth infrastructure crash in two years."

The B.C. CVSE, the statement highlighted, recently announced boosted fines and the ability to fully halt fleets with suspensions for patterns like these bridge strikes. Around Canada, motorists continued to report seeing Chohan-branded trucks on the road. Local news reported that Chohan-associated carriers in other provinces still have the right to operate, and a staff member at Chohan told Overdrive that no trucks with the suspended MC number are currently operating. 

In a statement to CBC news, Chohan blamed the crash on an owner-operator

"Unfortunately, one of our trucks operated by an owner operator was involved in an accident today in Delta," Chohan told CBC News. "The driver, who is not a company driver, failed to wait to receive his permit and route directions for his oversized load."

The company laid out a timeline of mere minutes between the safety department asking the operator to wait before driving to obtain the right permit and a call notifying safety he'd crashed into an overpass. 

Among the other five crashes authorities highlighted, at least one happened at the same bridge. A PR firm retained by Chohan didn't respond to request for comment from Overdrive. Chohan's United States Department of Transportation records, reflecting inspections that occurred in the United States, detail 16 truck inspections with a 40% out-of-service rate, well above the national average of 22.26%. The company told CBC it had an "exemplary" safety record. 

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Chohan Freight Forwarders, the suspended MC, belongs to a group of companies called the Chohan Group, which advertises itself as having an "impressive fleet of flatbeds to handle virtually any freight situation" and an "entire team" that's "made up of experienced transportation pros." 

The crash took place on Highway 99 in Delta, British Columbia, right near the U.S. border. Another local news outlet suggested that Canadian bridges showing measurements in meters, not feet and inches, may have contributed to the problem. 

[Related: FMCSA making a run at revamp to carrier safety rating system]

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