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Fuel prices ranked as top concern across Canada: survey

DON MILLS, Ont. - The high price of diesel fuel is the largest contributing factor to the souring mood of Canada's truckers, a national survey has found.For the fourth straight year, Truck News and Tr...


DON MILLS, Ont. – The high price of diesel fuel is the largest contributing factor to the souring mood of Canada’s truckers, a national survey has found.

For the fourth straight year, Truck News and Truck West have polled truckers across the country to quantify feelings at the wheel. In all, 200 owner/operators were polled by telephone and another 50 drivers and owner/operators consented to personal interviews at the 10 Acre Truck Stop in Belleville, Ont.

Surveyed truckers rated feelings about their own jobs with a 6.78 on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being highest. When asked to rate the overall mood of the Canadian trucker, however, they responded with a 4.14 on the same scale.

Perhaps there should be little surprise surrounding the worsening mood since this year’s survey was taken from Oct. 14 to Oct. 18 – at a time of extensive media coverage surrounding fuel-related protests being held east of Toronto. (See this month’s cover story.)

Regardless, that rating for truckers in general dropped substantially from the 5.12 recorded in 1999, 5.11 in 1998 and 5.16 in 1997. And while feelings about personal jobs were better than those they attached to truckers at large, that ranking has still dropped from the 6.7 recorded last year, 7.24 in 1998 and 7.52 in 1999.

A whopping 55 per cent of responses to the question, “what one issue most affects the mood of the Canadian trucker” related directly to the cost of fuel, leading by a large margin over rates and wages, which accounted for 14 per cent of responses. As in the past, public opinion (six per cent) and traffic conditions (five per cent) cracked the top five issues, while overall operating expenses sat at five per cent.

The only other issues of note were equipment purchase and financing costs (two per cent), hours of service regulations (two per cent) and taxes (1.5 per cent).

In the first three years of the survey, rates were cited as the top issue affecting the mood of truckers. Enforcement tended to be close behind, in second or third place, and public perception or the media were close behind. Only last year did fuel prices crack the Top 10, at fourth place. That should be no surprise, since diesel prices hit a 10-year-low until they began their climb in late 1999. But the concerns about fuel prices overshadow the response for any of the top concerns listed in past years.

For that matter, enforcement efforts failed to be cited at all this year.

In general, surveyed truckers ranked the general public’s view of jobs behind the wheel with a 3.95, marking a four-year low, compared to 4.5 in 1999, 4.26 in 1998 and 4.47 in 1997.

Those who contract truckers’ services and immediate supervisors or dispatchers don’t seem to be the cause of frustrations, however, since surveyed truckers were generally happy with their treatment. Employers and others who contract services earned a 7.21, on par with 7.16 in 1999, 7.45 in 1998 and 7.21 in 1997. Immediate supervisors or dispatchers fared a little worse at 6.81, compared to 7.25 in 1999, 7.32 in 1998 and 6.8 in 1997. n


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