Category: Banff

A north-east crash which claimed the lives of two lorry drivers was caused by one of them falling asleep

aberdeen sheriff court

A sheriff has ruled that a crash that claimed the lives of two lorry drivers was caused after one of them fell asleep at the wheel.
Farquhar Kennedy, 54, known as Frankie, was killed on the A90 Foveran to Belmedie road in Abe…

Horror smash that killed two lorry drivers on Aberdeenshire road was caused by trucker falling asleep at the wheel

Road tragedy

The driver of the Warburtons lorry veered into the opposite lane and smashed head-on with another vehicle

A HORROR crash that claimed the lives of two lorry drivers was caused after one of them fell asleep at the wheel, a sheriff has…

Lorry driver denies dangerous driving after A66 crash

The man appeared in court in connection with a crash involving two wagons near Kirkby Thore

A man has denied badly injuring a fellow HGV driver by dangerous driving, following a crash on the A66 between Penrith and Appleby.
Arlandas Lubys, 40, appear…

Speed limit to drop on cow death route

Emergency services attend an RTC on the A944 near Loch of Skene where a cattle lorry has went off the road. Picture by Kami Thomson 03-08-17

The speed limit on a busy north-east commuter road where there have been several crashes could soon be reduced.

Proposals have been lodged with Aberdeenshire Council to drop the limit from 60mph to 50mph on the A944 Aberdeen to Alford road at Kirkton of Skene.

The news comes just a day after three cows died when an articulated lorry carrying the cattle came off the road and landed in a ditch.

The council wants to reduce the limit just north-west of its junction with the B9126 Gairlock Smiddy, up to the start of the 30mph limit at Elrick.

The road has been the site of several collisions.

In February a 44-year-old man and a young girl were taken to hospital after a lorry overturned and landed on their car. The man was cut free from the car after it ended up leaving the road and landing in the front garden of a house.

And in December last year a busload of school children had a lucky escape after they were involved in a crash at the A944 junction with the B9126. The bus was left badly damaged, with a large portion of the offside caved in and the window shattered. The driver was charged with careless driving.

Councillor Iris Walker, who represents Westhill, said: “I’ve lived near it for a while now and there have always been crashes on that road.  The police were very keen when it went to committee to do something to improve safety on that road.

“There have been a lot of local people calling for something to be done to improve safety.

“There are a number of quite bad junctions on the A944, so anything that can be done to reduce the risk of accidents can only be a good thing.

“The consultation is up now and the only way that it won’t go through is if there is a valid reason for it not too. I can’t think of one. I was pleased to support this consultation at a recent Garioch Area Committee.”

The consultation will run until August 25.

Comments on the plans can be made by writing  to [email protected] or Head of Legal and Governance, Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen, AB16 5GB.

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Video: Drivers in Canada save cyclist from grizzly bear attack

Two pick truck drivers in Canada were caught on camera coming to the aid of a cyclist who was being followed by a grizzly bear.

Robbie Flemming was driving from Calgary toward Radium on July 14 when he saw a cyclist with full touring gear riding slowly up a long climb.

He told Global News[1]: “All of a sudden, I see a young grizzly jump over the Banff-bound guardrail in front of a tour bus and go loping across the highway.

“As he gets into my lane…he stands up on his back feet, and I’m sure he can smell that cyclist coming for a bit, and I’m sure he had visions of supper.”

“It was very surreal,” he added. “My first concern was that I was going to hit the bear. And then I realized I wasn’t going to hit the bear and then, OK, ‘He’s after that cyclist.’”

He began hitting his horn to get the cyclist’s attention, seeing that his speed would not outrun the bear.

“Finally he looked over at me and I said, ‘You’ve got a grizzly bear about 25 feet behind you.’ He looked back and went, ‘Oh!’ and started to pound on the pedals.”

He pulled his truck in between the rider and the bear, and turned his hazard lights on. A second pickup-truck driver saw what was happening and also pulled in between the space between the bear and the cyclist.

Once the cyclist was out of the bear’s line of sight, the rider gave a thumbs up to the drivers and rode on.

Cassie Beyer and Donald Poster of Idaho who were in a camper van, took photos at the scene

“He saw the cyclist, we were going down, he was coming uphill and the bear was chasing him,” Beyer told Global News. “It looked like the bear was after the cyclist.”

“His head was turned, he was looking back, he knew [the bear] was back there.”

In 2013, we reported how[2] Brad Paras posted footage to YouTube that showed him and his cousin being charged three times while out on their bikes in Alberta, Canada by a female grizzly bear protecting her cub, with both riders escaping unscathed.

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After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on


  1. ^ Global News (
  2. ^ In 2013, we reported how (
  3. ^ Sarah Barth (

Lorry driver banned from the roads after tipping vehicle

Neil Davidson at Banff Sheriff Court.

Neil Davidson at Banff Sheriff Court.

A lorry driver could now lose his job after being banned from the roads.

Neil Davidson had been driving loads of grain from a farm near Aberchirder to a storage depot when he misjudged a turn on a country road and toppled his vehicle.

And Banff Sheriff Court heard yesterday that it skidded across the road before colliding with an oncoming car at about 5.30pm on September 22 last year.

The lorry spilled its load across a field and damaged fencing worth about £1,500.

Davidson admitted driving the lorry carelessly and at excessive speed, causing it to tip over and collide with the car.

No one was seriously injured in the incident, but Davidson, who has previous convictions for dangerous driving and driving recklessly, had to be taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for treatment to bumps and scrapes.

Sheriff Philip Mann banned Davidson from the roads for nine months and fined him £450.

Defence agent Debbie Wilson suggested that the 27-year-old, of Windy Brae, Banff would struggle to pay for his home if he could not continue to drive.

She told the court: “This was his fourth run on this particular route this day and he had a fifth one to do.

“He was not a greatly experienced lorry driver.

“Mr Davidson was going too fast, or maybe got to cocky about the route.

“He needs his license to carry on paying his mortgage.”

Fiscal David Thorburn had told the court that the driver of the car Davidson collided with had stopped his own vehicle because he believed the lorry to be going too fast for the route – the B9025 Aberchirder to Turriff road.

Sheriff Mann said: “The only appropriate way to deal with this is to impose a period of disqualification.

“I have no doubt this is going to affect your employment and that’s unfortunate, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”

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Don’t hold your breath

BANFF, Alta. — It’s been settled – autonomous trucks will not be on our roadways anytime in the next decade.

That, at least, was the general consensus of a group of panelists examining the future of autonomous and platooning in the industry during the Alberta Motor Transport Association’s (AMTA) Leadership Conference April 29 in Banff, Alta.

“We’re all involved in this, and the question remains, ‘What are we trying to achieve?’ and ‘What are we talking about?’” Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), asked during the discussion. “We’re at such an early stage of this technology that talking about autonomous vehicles really isn’t even on the radar yet because it’s not there.”

Laskowski said OEMs and governments are instead concentrating on the types of technologies being created in an effort to achieve a truly autonomous vehicle, and those advancements are being used today to make drivers’ jobs safer and easier.

“When you look at heavy truck crashes, it’s typically driver-related,” he said. “So what technologies can we put in our trucks that make our drivers better? That is what carriers are working with today.”

But as for seeing autonomous trucks on North American roads, other than in Alberta’s oilfields or a yard somewhere, Laskowski says not to hold your breath.

“Nobody in the public or a politician is going to let an 80,000-lb vehicle down that road with nobody in it right now or for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Cindy Clark, dealer principal for Sterling Western Star Trucks Alberta, agreed, and said the current push for autonomous technology comes from a desire by each OEM to be first across the finish line.

“When you have five players with more money and they have investors, you’re going to try and be the first guy in,” Clark said, adding that the onslaught of new technologies is not because they are being pushed, but rather more readily available to the public, particularly when it comes to cost.

But cost is not on the side of autonomous trucks, Clark said, despite the fact that the technology is there. Clark said Daimler, one of the trucking industry’s biggest players, has relayed that it would not be rolling autonomous vehicles out of its factories in the next 10 years because of the costs associated with such an effort.

“The technology is there, people want to try it, but until we have the structure in place – the policies and the people’s confidence – it might be starting in 10 years,” Clark said. “And once it rolls, it will roll fast.”

Clark believes in order to gain society’s confidence in autonomous technology, there is a need for additional small test tracks, like the one located at the University of Alberta, where trials could take place.

Laury Schmidt, district sales manager for Volvo Trucks of Canada, said customers are driving the push toward autonomous because of one “killer” word – downtime.

“Everybody in this room is haunted by downtime,” Schmidt said. “Information is power. Timely and accurate information is a winner.”

Schmidt questioned the social acceptance of driverless vehicles, particularly trucks, comparing the idea to a commercial airplane with no pilot. He said there are multiple ways the industry could reach the point of an autonomous truck reality, such as economic demands, driver shortages, technology advancements, and customer demands.
Wendy Doyle, executive director for Alberta Transportation’s office of traffic safety, said government must play a balancing act when it comes to not stifling autonomous technology innovation, and admitted that government doesn’t really know what to prepare for.

She said autonomous vehicles will have a huge impact on several government policies, such as driver training, where rules must be in place to continue testing drivers for the necessary skills needed to operate a vehicle on the road.

“Things like distracted driving legislation, impairment, and what type of licence they should have for what type of vehicle,” Doyle said. “When you start examining it, there are obvious implications, such as having a vehicle without a driver in it, and does our legislation allow for that, and then the snowball effect of everything that happens as a result.”
Doyle said in any given year, collisions in Alberta cost between $5-$11 billion, and technology can help minimize that.

“Looking at this technology and how it can reduce social costs of collisions and reduce fatalities and serious injuries, really that’s what our incentives are,” she said, “is to allow for this type of innovation and draw down those serious injuries and fatalities.”

Despite tentativeness when it comes to autonomous vehicles, Schmidt believes platooning technology is strong and right around the corner.

Dan Duckering, president of Duckering’s Transport, agreed, but said it wouldn’t be an easy process.

“That’s going to impact our industry, and for regulators, it’s a huge deal,” Duckering said. “There are a lot of factors at play there.”

In order to invest in platooning or autonomous truck technology, Duckering would need to see the return on investment, and where costs would be saved, such as fuel economy and no need for a driver, because the investment would come with a hefty initial price tag.

This is, however, the age of ever-changing technology, Duckering said, and carriers of the future will be the ones that embrace these new technologies.

Another challenge Laskowski pointed out on the drive toward autonomous is the fact that Canadian companies purchase their trucks from US OEMs, and there is potential for the Canadian government to impose different regulations than are in place south of the border.

But Laskowski emphasized that what the autonomous craze is trying to accomplish in 2017 was not a driverless truck.

“Right now, I would say that what we are trying to achieve is safer piece of equipment,” he said. “A better driver.”

Laskowski feels this effort is vital since a new crop of young, inexperienced drivers will soon have to replace experienced drivers who are looking to retire.

“How can we make our trucks safer knowing that we are going to have to put less experienced people inside the cabs?” he questioned.

Doyle said government legislation of autonomous and platooning vehicles would be a mixture of revamping what is currently in the books and creating new rules of the road, as right now in Alberta, a vehicle cannot travel on a roadway without a human inside.

“It’s going to be a long process in trying to figure out where this technology is going to go with vehicles, how legislation is going to react and probably a lot of permits, exemptions and piloting in the meantime trying to figure out how that is going to look,” Doyle said, “so it won’t be a short policy process, that’s for sure.”

But before that point arrives, innovation must continue and society must be shown it works.

“Create the framework to allow the OEMs to thrive and the carriers to be creative by their own accord,” said Laskowski.

“Even the smallest pieces of technology needs to be accepted before the larger pieces can…they are integrated,” added Clark. “And if you don’t have people who want to take the small pieces to make the big pieces work, then that’s going to be a problem.”

Full plate for incoming CTA president Laskowski

BANFF, Alta. – Stephen Laskowski says the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) can only be as successful as its members will allow it to be.

“CTA will only be able to look as far as you’ll be able to let us,” Laskowski, incoming CTA president, told attendees at the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Leadership Conference April 28. “We’re as good as the knowledge you give us and the direction you give us.”

Laskowski provided some insight into the state of the industry, highlighting how he intends to continue the work of outgoing CTA president David Bradley, including what he feels should be the top priority for the association and trucking companies moving forward into the future – adaptability.

Laskowski said despite the arrival of new product delivery modes, such as drones, freight will always get to its destination by truck, but new technology was certainly a wake-up call to the industry on how products can get delivered in the future.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is another area Laskowski will focus on as CTA president.

“We need to be in the middle of this,” he said. “Without our customers’ success, we have no success.”

Laskowski said carbon pricing, which the Province of Alberta introduced Jan. 1, should be implemented in as simple a way as possible if provinces choose to explore the tax, pointing to the fuel surcharge system as a possible tool to be used.

As for government regulations in general, Laskowski said it’s not about the need for another rule, but rather what opportunity the rule could present to the industry, underscoring the upcoming electronic logging device (ELD) mandate as an example.

“ELDs will clean up this industry,” he said. “We need to look at the regulatory process moving forward to our advantage, because (regulations) are going to keep coming.”

Laskowski said Bradley had been relaying the importance of a Canadian ELD mandate to government for some time, and now with the US taking the plunge, Canada has fallen behind, with full enforcement of a Canadian law in his opinion not coming until late 2019 to 2020.

Bradley said the Canadian trucking industry was doing well compared to its southern neighbors, pointing to the plethora of safety awards bestowed on Canadian carriers each and every year, and that with the time it takes to get mandates approved and become law, the government is often playing catch-up with the industry.

Laskowski feels in order to overcome the driver shortage, the industry must shoulder the issue itself and try to attract professional drivers, not seat holders. This effort begins with changing the government’s National Occupation Classification to include driving, Laskowski said, and the implementation of the mandatory entry-level training (MELT) program is a step in the right direction.

Laskowski also said that today’s young people “like cool things” and the industry’s ongoing technology advancements can help “make trucking cool again to young people.”

The possible legalization of marijuana in Canada is another issue the CTA could be forced to deal with in the coming years.

Laskowski said the CTA is against legalizing marijuana until reliable testing is available to identify those who are impaired, and until that time, carriers should take a zero-tolerance approach.