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Private Links: A little hubris isn’t all bad

Hubris is normally considered to be an overbearing pride in oneself. I'm going to use a little licence to stretch that definition to include a pride in one's profession. Using that definition, hubris...

Bruce Richards

Bruce Richards

Hubris is normally considered to be an overbearing pride in oneself. I’m going to use a little licence to stretch that definition to include a pride in one’s profession. Using that definition, hubris can’t be all bad, can it?

And although the following comments on the industry are published in a trucking magazine, they shouldn’t be considered as being sycophantic. I have no reason to applaud the industry’s efforts beyond that of simply recognizing that some good things are happening.

We can begin with the fact that there are so many professionals working in the trucking sector, people who have devoted the largest part of their working careers to making a difference in our industry.

These are people with whose viewpoints it’s not always possible to agree, but it is impossible not to believe in their sincerity. And while there are many platforms and opportunities for differences of opinion, seldom do they devolve into animosity. In most cases, some middle ground is found through discussion that leaves everyone reasonably satisfied and moves the trucking industry forward.

Among those professionals I would include the very recently retired Derek Sweet, director general road safety at Transport Canada, whom I have known and worked with for many years. Always forthright and helpful, Derek is also an avid listener – not an overly common trait in any industry – whose significant efforts made the industry a little better. (I only wish I had acknowledged his contributions in print before he retired…apologies for my tardiness Derek).

I also salute the people at the various transportation ministries across the country that have the task of dealing with the industry’s complaints and ideas while trying to satisfy the needs of the government of the day, and doing it in a manner that keeps the industry moving forward.

Compiling a complete list of committees and councils for which industry leaders volunteer their time would be close to impossible. Much of the work of these committees is accomplished under the radar and without fanfare, with many good ideas being developed and put into action as a result of their work.

Two specific groups come immediately to mind: The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) and the Advisory Council for Truck Safety (ACTS), both of which have brought professionals from every segment of the industry to the table to address current and future needs. And there are many groups like these in every jurisdiction that assemble dedicated volunteers to help the trucking industry help itself.

We have industry professionals managing trucking operations, private and for-hire, that have impressive performance records, only maintained by hard work and a commitment to looking out for their people, their customers and their suppliers. These are the companies for which people want to work.

The industry’s safety record is confirmed by reports published in both Canada and the United States.

In a March 2006 report to congress, the U.S. DoT examined collisions in 17 states during 2003, and concluded that in the majority of collisions involving passenger vehicles and trucks, the passenger vehicle was more responsible.

The statistics in Transport Canada’s report “Heavy Truck Collisions 1994 – 1998” show that heavy trucks (straight trucks and tractor trailers) were involved in approximately 11 per cent of fatal collisions, and only three per cent of personal injury collisions. And, in fatal collisions, the drivers of the passenger vehicles involved were recorded as having a driver action “other than apparently normal” more than four times as frequently as the driver of the heavy vehicle.

Further supporting the thesis that the trucking industry has a well-deserved safety record are the RoadCheck results, which reported that 97 per cent of drivers and 82 per cent of vehicles passed safety related checks in 2005.

We have professionals behind the wheel that help make these safety records a reality. The Ontario Trucking Association has its Road Knights and the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada has its Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers. Many other associations and industry suppliers also recognize individual drivers for their performance.

So when the bottom feeders of trucking hit the news, as they always seem to do, or when the public media tries to become an instrument of division within the industry, let’s all take a moment to consider the true professionals who are committed to the trucking industry. They work at many different levels, in many different jobs, and they all deserve respect.

-The PMTC is the only national association dedicated to the private trucking community. Your comments can be addressed to

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