September is one of my favorite months of the year. The weather is cool, clean and fresh, the leaves start to turn colors and provide us with amazing scenery. Baseball playoffs are just around the corner, the hockey season is just beginning and for a few days, even Maple Leafs fans like me can be optimistic as news out of camps is always positive and the reality of another losing season has not yet set in.
Another reason September is one of the months I look forward to is there are some truly amazing events in the month that showcase the best our industry has to offer and at the same time show the charitable side of trucking and the industry as a whole. On the charitable side, September is the month that six different truck convoys for Special Olympics occur all across this great land.
If this is an event you have never been to, try to make it out to one of the events in your region next year.
The camaraderie among the truck drivers, fleet owners, suppliers to the industry, trucking associations and generally all sectors of the industry is on display and at its best.
Everyone volunteering, attending and donating to this great cause puts any personal agendas aside and is selflessly giving of their time and support to ensure the experience for the athletes is the best it can be.
The smiles on the faces of the athletes is reward enough for the drivers and rest of the volunteers and it shows.
The World’s Largest Convoy for Special Olympics takes place in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and two locations in Ontario. The Paris, Ont. convoy took place on Sept. 16-17 this year and was their 12th annual event. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a portion of the festivities this year and look forward to being able to participate more next year. The Paris Convoy alone had 74 trucks and raised over $52,000 this year. It has raised over $530,000 since 2005.
Several fleets were represented and included private and for-hire companies and drivers. This was a truly heartwarming event and if you have not attended before, I encourage you to get involved next year – you won’t be disappointed.
Another event in September that showcases the most talented and professional drivers of the industry occurred on the weekend of Sept. 16-18 in Brantford, Ont. The National Truck Driving Championships is a yearly event that brings together drivers from all over the country. To even reach the nationals the drivers must have already competed at regional and provincial championships and placed in the top of their field to advance. Drivers compete in five different categories, which are: straight truck; single-single; single-tandem; tandem-tandem; and B-train.
The drivers must complete a written test on trucking safety and knowledge, complete a pre-trip inspection where they identify defects, and then finally the driving course.
Drivers must drive through obstacle courses that have been set up and then back into a simulated loading dock. Each cone knocked over or scraped deducts points from the driver’s score. Private fleets were well represented at the event, with the Grand Champion being Bryon Winfield of Home Hardware, and the Rookie of the Year being Robert Smith of Tim Hortons. A full list of the winners can be found on pg. 31. Events such as these should help to dispel the myths and image problems that we have in this industry.
The convoy is just one of several examples of charitable events that the trucking industry gets involved in every year.
The truck driving championships display the true skill and professionalism that today’s professional drivers have. Unfortunately, no one outside of the industry knows about these events. We need to find a way to ensure the general public is more aware of these types of events and that they are encouraged to participate. If we can get the general population to come out and attend these events and interact with our industry, perhaps this would be the first step of many to improve our image and get more people interested in joining the profession.
Mike Millian is president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the only national association that represents the views and interests of the private fleet industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.