Just read James Menzies article “Cutting Corners” front page of July Truck News and thought it was spot on, congratulation to him, we need folks to start a dialogue on this issue and it needs to change. I agree whole heartedly with him but I do have a different twist on his thinking. In that this industry is the same as any other in a free market system, you have read this before coming from me, and it is simple supply versus demand. When there are too many trucks for the freight that is available, the rates go down, when there is more freight than trucks then the rates go up. It really is simple, and it really is a joke to take seriously any argument that would try to support the idea that there has been a driver shortage for the past 25 years. If this were the case the rates would be dictated by the service provider not by the shippers who have been squeezing truckers till they have no margins left for far too long. When trucking companies buy too many trucks and can’t find drivers for them that isn’t a driver shortage, its poor management at best and it seriously hurts the industry but it’s not a driver shortage.
Add to this a government that is ignorant to the transportation industry as a whole and the frustration level climbs exponentially. With the size and complexity of this industry and the fact that the transportation sector is the number largest employer of men in this country, wouldn’t you think our representatives in Ottawa would pay a little more attention to the trucking industry, it boggles the mind! Speed limiters, safety blitzes, safety audits on and on but no minimum training standard for entry level drivers. I know I rant about this a little too much for some of you but I get emails all the time from people who have been stiffed by one of these crapola training schools and it bothers me to think that these scammers are allowed to exist. Exist hell most of the folks who write me have had their training paid for with our tax dollars, that’s right we the tax payer are allowing our tax dollars to support these sleazy operations, it’s just wrong any way you slice it and no one seems to care in our government or in our industry associations.
Want to take a huge step towards fixing this industry financially; want to improve the quality and professionalism of your fellow drivers? Regulate these schools with a standardized training curriculum that will ensure they get the training that is needed, not just enough to pass a one hour driving test. I am talking 400 plus hour’s minimum with mandated one on one behind the wheel driving with a driver trainer who has been certified as an instructor by the government to a minimum standard.
I am starting to think that I am losing it; it seems obvious to me where fixing this industry should start and guess what it is at the start with the proper training of the new drivers coming into the industry. Increasing training times will slow down new entrants to the industry, which scares the heck out of trucking companies. But guess what it will also drive rates up and get everyone a bigger paycheck, supply and demand remember? In addition increasing the training standards would be much more effective in the safety arena that any speed limiter will ever be. Add to this the obvious result of better qualified entry level drivers that have a ten fold better chance of being successful and staying in the industry!
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight