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Surgeons behind the wheel


Transportation Media editor Carolyn Gruske and I spent all of Saturday July 12 at the Molson Centre in Barrie, Ont. attending the Ontario Truck Driving Championships (OTDC) and awards banquet. It was a long day. And worth every second of it.

Whether you are a professional driver, a fleet manager, or a fleet executive I think you will want to know why I’m so high on the OTDC and what it has to offer. About nine months ago, OTDC president Ewen Steele approached me at an industry event about his plans to breathe new life into the OTDC. I had heard about the OTDC of course but did not know a great deal about it or personally attended an OTDC event (although other members of my staff had on occasion). Ewen told me that like many organizations that had been around a long time, the OTDC was looking to revitalize itself; to ensure it remained meaningful to the new generation of drivers and fleet executives. He asked for my help in doing so. I instantly warmed to his open and straightforward approach and started looking into the group and learning about its mandate.

I was instantly hooked. The OTDC was a story that needed to be shared. Loud and clear.  Here was a group that has been an integral part of our industry since 1947. For almost seven decades the OTDC has been providing a forum for professional drivers to display their driving skills and encourage drivers and their employers to take an active interest in the safety, skill and courtesy needed to conduct a responsible business on our streets and highways. It was a group brimming with the professional image we so want our industry to convey.

I told Ewen I wanted Truck News to be an integral part of the OTDC and we signed on as official media sponsor. We attended the regional events, wrote about the outcomes, profiled some of the best driver participants, and shot a great deal of video for our Web TV show, TMTV.

Then came the Ontario finals, where I personally got to see first hand what this group – the drivers, the volunteers and the sponsors that support it – is all about. 

The drivers are top notch professionals with driving skills that truly impress. Their ability to maneuver large vehicles through intricate obstacle courses is amazing. Even more so when you consider they are doing it in vehicles they’re not used to and in front of an audience, our cameras and the close scrutiny of judges.

Just as amazing I thought is all the work that goes on behind the scenes. The OTDC is run by volunteers and sponsors who are committed to ensuring they produce a top notch competition year after year.  Driver registrations and new registrants were both up this year, both very positive developments. We are committed to helping the OTDC continue to grow. 

So if you are a professional driver and would like to place your skills to the test in an atmosphere of camaraderie, I want to tell you, this event is definitely worth your consideration. If you are a fleet manager or executive I want to tell you this event is worth your support. It promotes exactly the kind of driver you want behind the wheel of your trucks. As president Ewen says, “People who are striving to drive with that kind of precision don’t turn that on and off, that’s how they drive every day. They are like surgeons with their vehicles.”

And to everyone in the industry I want to say this: We believe in the OTDC. And we will be working hard in the years to come to ensure everyone comes to know about the OTDC and the great image it creates for our industry.


Lou Smyrlis

Lou Smyrlis

With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics.
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