If you drive a heavy truck for long enough, you'll eventually need to take a detour. Whether to get around an accident, construction, or some other obstacle, you'll have to deviate from your planned route in order to continue on your way and reach your destination. When taking certain detours, you may have to get special permits. Here's why you might need permits—along with why you shouldn't take a detour that requires them until you have the permits.
You Might Run into Restrictions
Detours sometimes take drivers on secondary roads that have driving restrictions. Without a permit, you might not be able to legally take a heavy truck on these roads—even if you have a permit to drive on your original route. For example, you might have to get permits if the detour requires driving a heavy truck on any of the following:
- residential streets that prohibit commercial traffic
- roads that have a weight limit below your truck's weight
- narrow city streets that don't usually have large trucks going through them
You Might Be Ticketed
Should you proceed along a detour without getting the necessary legal documents, you might be ticketed. Even though the detour may be the only route around a roadblock, a police officer may still issue you a traffic ticket if you're driving on a street illegally.
In some cases, you may come across a detour that requires a permit after business hours or on the weekend. As a truck driver, you probably can't afford to wait until the next business day to get the necessary permits. The best solution in this type of situation is to work with your dispatcher and the local police to help you find a route you can take. If you explain the situation to local law enforcement, they may be willing to map out another potential detour that doesn't require permits or, possibly, even give you a police escort until you can get back on your planned route.
Even if your employer says they're willing to pay any ticket you're issued while taking a detour, you should still refuse to take a detour without a permit or police permission. Although you might not have to financially cover the cost of the ticket, being issued a ticket can add points to your license. In some cases, points can affect your insurance rates and render you ineligible for company bonuses.
Points may even lead to a bill for a driver premium, depending on what province or territory you're ticketed in. For instance, British Columbia assesses both a Driver Penalty Points Premium and a Driver Risk Premium.
You May Not Be Insured
By driving without a permit on roads that require one, you may void your insurance policy. Because you're driving illegally, your insurer may refuse to cover you while on the detour.
If you're in an accident while your insurance is voided, you might be held personally responsible for any financial losses associated with the accident. These may include both property damage and medical costs for injuries that result from the collision.
Your Dispatcher Can Help
When you come across a detour, you might not immediately know whether the roads it takes you on require permits. Your dispatcher, though, ought to be able to help you figure out whether you need any documents before proceeding.
Often, traffic is moving slowly or at a standstill at the start of a detour. When you slow down, take this time to get on the radio and call your dispatcher. Ask them to look up the detour and contact any local authorities. They might need a few minutes to get you the permission you need to proceed. Waiting for them to get you permits to drive your heavy truck on the detour, though, will ensure you don't get a ticket or void your insurance coverage.
To learn more about the laws that restrict heavy trucks, speak with a representative from a company like Gerry's Truck Centre Ontario.