Yukon truck driver charged with failure to sleep

A Yukon truck driver has been fined after breaking safety rules and failing to rest.

It was the driver's 1st week on the job, and his logbooks didn't match the truck's mileage

A B.C. truck driver behind the wheel. A truck driver in the Yukon was fined $1,962 for failing to rest, which almost killed someone, says a territorial judge. (Samantha Garvey/CBC)

A Yukon truck driver has been fined after breaking safety rules and failing to rest.

A territorial judge says the driver could have killed someone.

Grady McNaughton rolled an empty tanker truck on the Alaska Highway on Nov. 3, 2016. It was his first week on the job as a driver for Cobalt Construction Inc.

Michael Kasprzak, the Yukon government's assistant manager for National Safety Code commercial vehicle enforcement, told the court that McNaughton showed a pattern of driving long hours against safety rules.

Furthermore, his logbooks did not match the truck's mileage.

"There's a lot missing from these logbooks. We've got eight, nine-hour trips that are unaccounted for, they seem to have occurred while he was sleeping," Kasprzak told the court.  

On the day of the crash, McNaughton had recorded only a five-hour gap between ending the previous shift and starting another.

Kasprzak said previous nights had been equally short. In the four nights before the crash, McNaughton recorded, on average, about five hours of downtime between shifts.  

McNaughton initially pleaded not guilty, which is why the matter went to trial, however he changed his plea to guilty in court.

He was fined $1,962 on five counts under the National Safety Code regulations. One charge involves driving more than 15 hours without rest. Another relates to working more than 80 hours in a stretch of days without taking 24 hours off to rest.  

The sentencing did not address the cause of the crash. However, outside court McNaughton denied it was because of fatigue.

McNaughton said he still suffers effects of the crash, in which he fractured vertebrae in his neck. He said a head injury caused his eyes to swell shut for days.

He declined to comment further.

Obvious hazards ignored, says judge

McNaughton was also fined for failing to perform and record safety checks on his truck.

His truck was examined after the crash. The court heard the 18-wheeler had badly-adjusted brakes, was leaking oil and had structural cracks where the suspension met the frame: something the National Safety Code calls a major problem.

"There were patently obvious, major problems which would have been obvious if a daily inspection was carried out properly," said Judge Michael Cozens.

In court, Cozens said McNaughton could have died in the crash and said it was fortunate no one else was injured.

The judge also noted he found it "surprising" that only the driver was facing charges and not the company he worked for.

Cozens said "there is an obligation for employers to make sure employees understand safety rules."

A spokesperson from the Yukon government, however, says Cobalt Construction was charged with several offences in relation to McNaughton's accident — such as allowing him to drive without enough off-duty time.

The company pleaded guilty in June, and was fined $1,450. 


  • This story has been updated to include information about the charges against Cobalt Construction, in relation to the accident.
    Oct 31, 2017 3:52 PM CT