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Research will guide the future for private fleet managers

Following last month's column wherein I discussed a research initiative in which PMTC had engaged, several people contacted me to comment on what they perceived to be a lack of readily available infor...

Following last month’s column wherein I discussed a research initiative in which PMTC had engaged, several people contacted me to comment on what they perceived to be a lack of readily available information about the trucking industry.

You may recall in that column I expressed the view that the industry needed a more comprehensive hiring tool than is commonly available. My point was that when hiring drivers, companies need the tools to go beyond the standard licence verification and a call to a former employer. Even road tests are not a true indicator of how an individual driver will behave once his supervisor is out of the passenger seat and he or she has the truck to themselves.

Readers may recall that I described some work that PMTC had done with a consulting firm and the co-operation of some of the drivers in the PMTC’s Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers. In that project we were able to identify specific characteristics of successful drivers, and we were on the way to developing a tool that could be used to determine how many of those characteristics an applicant for a driving job might possess.

While I was only touching on one aspect of research, the column prompted some discussion on the general availability (or lack of same) of information on Canadian trucking.

Consultants, of course, live for statistical information and scarcely a week goes by that we don’t receive a call from one of them seeking information on the industry, which may underscore its importance. That they in turn sell that information to their clients is another story for another time.

That aside, the importance of good, current information can’t be overstated. That makes the research conducted by the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) extremely valuable to analysts, to fleet operators, and to prospective drivers. Working closely with the industry, CTHRC has, over the past several years, produced a number of significant reports.

In the early days, CTHRC and the industry developed a training program for entry-level drivers that was designed to meet the needs identified by the industry; they have identified what the industry wanted in the way of skills in their new hires and the extent to which the training and licensing procedures in our jurisdictions measured up; they developed a comprehensive chart of Essential Skills for different types of driving positions; the Guide to Human Resources for the trucking industry is an invaluable tool for fleet operators; and their research on the lack of qualified drivers and a demand forecast gave us early warning of a dire situation.

These are just a few of the products developed by CTHRC with the direct participation of the industry, which combine to make CTHRC the foremost resource for information on human resource management in the trucking industry.

The next logical question from our perspective at PMTC was how could we compile information that is specific to Canada’s private trucking sector, and that would help the operators of those fleets? PMTC members are well known for a willingness to share information on best practices and this informal network of subject experts is a very valuable and tangible benefit of membership with the PMTC.

To compliment that network we wanted to broaden the scope of the information gathering, and help develop a report that could benchmark how some of the best-run private fleets manage their business.

Our aims merged perfectly into collaboration with Motortruck Fleet Executive magazine on a very significant undertaking: a major benchmarking survey of private fleet operators, which is the first of its kind in Canada.

We began with a panel of private fleet operators who identified the topics that would be of most interest. This list took some editing because we were also mindful of the need to keep the questionnaire as brief and easy to complete as possible, and yet ensure that the resulting report would yield valuable benchmarking information.

The result is a groundbreaking research initiative that will establish fleet management benchmarks and best practices for Canadian private fleets. Private fleet managers across Canada are being asked to participate in the study by completing a short on line survey. The survey covers such topics as: fuel purchasing practices; evolving technology; driver wages and benefits; and safety programs.

Once compiled, the survey results will allow Canadian private fleet managers to compare their own operational practices with those of other private fleets across Canada. It’s a ‘first of its kind’ project that will benefit all private fleet operators across the country.

So, if you if you operate a private fleet and haven’t already done so, I encourage you to take a few minutes to complete the online survey. The final report is expected to be a very useful compendium of the best practices of private carriers, the type of information that will aid any fleet manager. You can find the survey at: We are all looking forward to the results.

-The Private Motor Truck Council is the only national association dedicated to the private trucking community. Direct comments and questions to

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