“Cold enough for ya,” said in my most obnoxious voice. Truckers and carriers (and truck writers) right across much of North America are currently coping with some unprecedented cold weather that’s doing more than just making things uncomfortable: it’s having a real impact on their operations. Marco Beghetto, v.p. of communications and new media with the Ontario Trucking Association (and still a journalist at heart), has been calling fleets to find out how they’ve been affected by the extreme cold.
“It’s affecting them,” he told me. “We’re hearing of drivers stranded in the US and carriers trying to get them home. We’re hearing that from an operational point of view, it’s playing havoc. They have a driver ready and the freight is ready and they go to get the equipment and it’s frozen solid. They either can’t get in or the older pieces of equipment won’t start, so they have to de-ice it. It’s really screwing up delivery schedules.”
Marco also said some fleets serving less-than-friendly customers are having to go to bat for their drivers over things like access to facilities, or bending the rules on idling restrictions. One carrier, Marco told me, instructed its driver to leave a receiver’s yard when they told him he couldn’t idle on site while waiting several hours to be unloaded.
“If you don’t have customers who are willing to work with your drivers and treat them like human beings, these are the times you want to start considering the types of customers you work with,” Marco told me. “This is a time where companies really have to be diligent about reducing or mitigating the impact on drivers as much as possible. These are the things drivers and their families remember – what did the company do for me?”
Fuel economy is also suffering by as much as 10-15% while driving – even more for drivers who have to idle to keep warm, Marco noted. Most carriers Marco spoke with said they’ll recover costs where possible, but acknowledged these types of weather events are a cost of doing business.
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