TORONTO, Ont. - Around the Ontario Trucking Association's (OTA) main boardroom 12 eager men sit, faces transfixed in almost trance-like concentration.All eyes face front, glued to the television and a...
TORONTO, Ont. – Around the Ontario Trucking Association’s (OTA) main boardroom 12 eager men sit, faces transfixed in almost trance-like concentration.
All eyes face front, glued to the television and a recording of Challenger Motor Freight driver Dave Bennison giving a mock interview on the current state of the trucking industry.
They share a few laughs and several cups of coffee, but they also share something far more important – these are the latest professional truckers to be given the title of Knights of the Road.
The group’s media training, offered by John Stall Communications, caps an exhausting search that has yielded 12 new OTA Road Knights. Each one, ready to pick up where the previous members left off, is set to run clear through to the end of 2002.
Meanwhile up the road, the scene is being repeated at the Quebec Trucking Association.
The carrier association has selected its inaugural team of Les Ambassadeurs de la Route, its equivalent of the OTA’s Road Knights program. The eight Road Ambassadors will begin their tour in March. (See page 18.)
For Ontario’s team, however, the busy grind has already begun. In addition to their driving duties, each member will appear in different parts of the province, putting a positive face ‘in front of the camera’ to represent the trucking industry.
For George Warn, a driver with Cavalier Transportation, being a Road Knight is truly an honor.
“I’m very pleased to have this opportunity,” says a nervous Warn, in his first official media interview as a spokesperson for the industry. “This is a tremendous program – anytime you get the opportunity to raise the profile of our industry and correct the misconceptions commonly held by the public is a positive thing.”
For all, the first order of business will be to become acquainted with all of the OTA’s existing programs.
In the case of Elwood Inwood, actually one of two owner/operators on this edition of the close-knit crew, the end of his career behind the wheel is approaching. This distinction, which he’ll share with the fleet he runs for (Mississauga-based Trimac), is a perfect cap on what has, thus far, been a stellar 32-year career.
“When I first heard about the program I wasn’t sure,” explains the owner of a ’95 Eagle 9400 Pro Sleeper. “It was my wife Bonnie who really encouraged me to follow through … She has always been there for me, especially when I’d call her late at night from the road needing her most.”
He says the role of the Knights is critical nowadays. “Especially in areas like Toronto, where you have so many new drivers who don’t know anything about sharing the road with trucks. Graduated licensing is a good start, but we’re still very vulnerable .” n