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Getting to the core of the driver shortage problem

In my column last month, I introduced the report of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage in Trucking.


In my column last month, I introduced the report of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage in Trucking.

I mentioned at the time that one of the key features of the report was the adoption of a statement of core values.

Even if the industry were to start today, there is a long road ahead in attempting to solve the driver shortage.

In recognition of that, the Blue Ribbon Task Force felt from the very outset it was important to establish the fundamental core values that will guide us in the development of an action plan today and in our efforts during the years ahead.

The task force members feel it is imperative that the industry leaders make a strong statement by looking inward at our industry and demonstrating to current and future drivers that they are serious about coming to grips with the issues that underpin the driver shortage.

There are those who will be naysayers, those who will question our motives, those that will doubt our commitment to addressing the problems and all manner of other roadblocks that will be thrown in our way.

No one thinks it will be easy. But if those who seek change stick to the values developed by the Blue Ribbon Task Force and keep forging ahead, we can be successful.

The following is the complete statement of core values:

• Truck drivers are our most important asset, the face of the industry – to our customers and to the public;

• They are deserving of respect;

• Their welfare is at the core of the industry’s success;

• People of all ages, genders, religions, and races are welcome to work in the industry so long as they meet our standards of safe driving, performance and professional conduct;

• Truck drivers should have an improved ability to predict what their weekly pay is going to be;

• Truck driver compensation packages need to be competitive with or better than alternative employment options and more transparent;

• Truck drivers should be paid for all the work that they do and earn enough to cover all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred while on the road for extended periods;

• Truck drivers should be able to plan their lives like most other employees and predict or anticipate their time away from work;

• Their time at work should not be wasted – at shipper/consignee premises, waiting for their trucks in the shop, or waiting for a response to a question of their carrier;

• They should be able to rely on their carrier not to interfere with their personal time by (for example) calling them back to work early;

• Driver wellness should be a top priority for employers;

• Driver security while on the road should also be a priority with the rise in cargo crime;

• A minimum standard of entry level, apprenticeship or apprenticeship-like truck driver training should be mandatory;

• Truck driving should be considered a skilled trade and be recognized as such by the various levels and branches of government, standards councils, etc., who certify such things;

• There should be a program of mandatory ongoing training and/or recertification (ie., TDG Act, pre-trip inspection, load securement, hours-of-service, etc.) throughout a driver’s career.

Trucking is a tough business in a very difficult market. No one is denying that outside parties and mitigating factors can contribute to these challenges – sometimes extensively.

However, it is carriers – those that hire, fire, determine what and how to pay their drivers, who price their service and deal with their customers – who are ultimately responsible for their businesses and ensuring they have the right people to do the work.

That said, we are, and have always been, an industry of problem solvers and innovators. Those characteristics will be tested in the coming years.

Make no mistake, this is the beginning of a long journey, but one well worth taking.


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