CTA names new chairman: Speed limiters, EOBRs top agenda

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OTTAWA, Ont. – The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) wasted little time in naming a successor to the late John Cyopeck, who passed away in his sleep in April.

Claude Robert, CEO of Group Robert of Boucherville, Que. will lead the Alliance as chairman, the association has announced. His term begins immediately and runs until 2008.

Robert said he will follow in the footsteps of previous chairmen, Cyopeck, Evan MacKinnon and Allan Robison to “build a new culture of competition based on compliance” in the trucking industry. Robert said he will urge the provincial trucking associations to continue pushing for the mandatory use of speed limiters.

“With the price of crude oil likely to be in the range of US$75-100 per barrel over the next few years, everyone in the industry has got to get serious about eliminating excessive speed,” Robert says.

“With a slower economy in many regions of the country, shippers will push back harder on fuel surcharges and the industry will also have to improve fuel efficiency.”

“OTA has got the ball rolling and has been taking most of the heat from those who haven’t supported speed limiters up until now. I want to work with all the provincial associations under the CTA banner to make speed limiters a reality across the country,” adds Robert.

In a further effort to reduce fuel consumption, Robert said he will push for anti-idling initiatives.

“We can’t do much about the cost of a barrel of crude, but we can manage our consumption,” he says.

Robert also says he will continue CTA’s push for the use of electronic on-board recorders to monitor and improve compliance with Hours-of-Service regulations.

The CTA threw its support behind the use of EOBRs two years ago.

“Paper log books are a joke,” says Robert.

“You can have all the internal audit protocols you want and you won’t eliminate illegal operations. Again, the industry has got get serious about Hours-of-Service compliance. If we don’t, and some carriers and drivers continue to operate illegally, we will never get the rates we need, our drivers will never be paid what they are worth and we will not attract the quality people to the industry that we are going to need in the future.”

Robert says carriers can protect themselves from lawsuits and increased insurance costs by using EOBRs.

Robert also had a message for shippers, stating CTA will continue to promote shipper responsibility for safety, as well as rates and surcharges that reflect the cost of service.

“It is not right, for example, that the onus for the new cargo securement rules rests entirely with carriers even when we don’t load the trailers,” says Robert. “With all the new US Customs rules, carriers are providing more and more services to shippers that really should be the shippers’ job. If the carriers are going to continue to act more and more like Customs brokers, the shippers should be prepared to pay more.”

Finally, Robert said he will be looking at ways to harmonize trucking regulations throughout Canada.

Canada’s owner/op group, the Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada (OBAC) quickly declared it was prepared to do battle with Robert and the CTA over two if its primary objectives – implementing the mandatory use of speed limiters and EOBRs.

In a press release posted on its Web site, OBAC executive director Joanne Ritchie said “EOBRs do nothing to address the on-duty, not-driving demands of carriers and shippers. Black boxes still rely on driver input, and as long as they feel pressured to accommodate unreasonable delivery schedules, or struggle to make sure there are enough hours left in the week to make some money, that input will be no more accurate than it is in a paper log.”

While Ritchie said she agrees with Robert that illegal operators need to be flushed out of the system, she added “Perhaps we’d see illegal operators ‘flushed out the system’ faster if carriers supported initiatives like OOIDA’s Run Compliant campaign. That’s what we’re urging every driver to do right now: no costly technology, no privacy issues, no new regulation, and no more free off-duty, not-driving time.”

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