Cheating, in life and in business, shouldn’t pay. But for too long in trucking it has.
There are signs, however, that this could be about to change. Those who abuse hours-of-service regulations are soon going to be forced to comply, as Canada ushers in its own electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.
After concerns surfaced that overwritable ELDs were hitting the market, Canada took the additional step to require third-party certification of devices. This should go a long way towards eliminating cheating when it comes to hours-of-service, addressing one of the most long-running forms of cheating the trucking industry has seen.
More recently, a lot has been said about Driver Inc. It’s a controversial payment method, in which the employer misclassifies company truck drivers as independent contractors in order to sidestep source deductions. Entire trucking companies have been built on this model, and some sizeable ones at that.
Alain Bedard, chairman and CEO of TFI International, said this month on a conference call with analysts that Driver Inc. companies save about 15-20% on their labor costs, enabling them to undercut rates and add capacity.
There are signs, however, that Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Bureau is commencing enforcement against Driver Inc. carriers. In September, two carriers were audited and forced to pay back more than $200,000. Since then, more audits have been conducted, and fines levied.
Driver Inc.’s days could be numbered, especially if Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) gets involved. I’d be awfully squirmy at the moment if I was driving for a Driver Inc. fleet, knowing CRA is under intense pressure to begin enforcing federal rules. A large carrier may be able to survive a hefty fine, but can an individual driver afford to pay back years of unpaid source deductions?
Sadly, these drivers have usually been fed a false bill of goods and were told this payment method was above board.
Sometimes, when something seems too good to be true, it is.
Lastly, in recent weeks the Ontario government announced its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. Guess what? They’re going after heavy truck emissions cheaters. We began writing about the so-called DPF delete services several years ago, conducting an investigation into the practice and exposing a large, lucrative underground industry.
Fleets and owner-operators unhappy with the poor reliability of the early generation DFP and SCR emissions systems were paying to have these systems removed, effectively bypassing emissions standards put into place over the past decade-plus.
Proposed changes could take these trucks off the road. Ontario is proposing that combined safety and emissions inspections be required annually, beginning when a truck is first registered in Ontario. The inspection will require a physical and electronic emissions system tampering test, by as early as 2021.
Ontario could become the first jurisdiction in North America to test vehicles for emissions system tampering during an annual safety inspection, and will also be able to check for compliance at roadside.
It’ll be game over for emissions cheaters, who’ll be forced to bring their trucks back into compliance. And those catalysts aren’t cheap. I just wonder if the companies that provided the DPF delete services kept all those aftertreatment components?
They may be able to offer a new service – restoring emissions systems, and make a second killing bringing that segment of the industry back into compliance.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies