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The public really does like us

MONTREAL, Que. - It's a pleasure to learn that 83% of Quebecers contacted in a Leger Marketing survey last year have a good or very good perception of truck drivers, and that 82% of them feel that way about trucking companies.


MONTREAL, Que. – It’s a pleasure to learn that 83% of Quebecers contacted in a Leger Marketing survey last year have a good or very good perception of truck drivers, and that 82% of them feel that way about trucking companies.

The results of the survey, carried out for Transports Quebec and the Forum on General Trucking, which was created after the province-wide owner/operator demonstrations in 1999, were announced this March.

“The main objective of the Forum is to provide a place for Quebec’s owner/operators to talk with their employers about their general conditions and, especially, about their commercial relations,” says Benoit Cayouette. He is the interim president of the Forum on General Trucking and the directeur, direction du transport routier des marchandises (director, management of the road transportation of merchandise) with Transports Quebec.

Leger contacted 2,002 French-speaking Quebec men and women over the age of 16, who held Class 5 licences; the majority of the respondents fell in the 23-65 years of age range.

The idea to conduct the survey came out of Forum discussions about the bad image that the trucking industry appeared to have in the public eye. Forum members thought that this bad image could be causing some owner/operators to leave the business, and that public pressure could lead to legislative changes, such as restricting the number of trucks on the road during rush hours.

“It was agreed at the Forum that the image of the industry had an effect on the general conditions of operation for carriers. Members of the Forum were convinced that the public, in general, were not supportive of the trucking industry and that the lack of support had consequences for the trucking business. Looking at the data from the Quebec Transport Commission (CTQ), we observed that a significant number of new owner/operators, about 400, registered with the CTQ each year, but that approximately the same number of people quit the business during the next one to eight years,” Cayouette explains.

Forum members wanted to produce a media campaign to improve the trucking industry image, but decided to first obtain some objective evidence of the bad perception that was thought to exist. This would better equip them to improve the image of the trucking industry.

The most frequently mentioned positive point about the industry that survey respondents offered was its necessary role for our society to function well.

On the other hand, respondents thought that the weakest point about the industry was an insufficient respect for speed limits.
Seventy-five per cent of respondents thought that the security of the transportation of dangerous goods was satisfactory. Sixty-one per cent though that the condition of trucks and maintenance was satisfactory. Only 48% of the respondents thought that the industry was on the cutting edge of technology, and 37% thought it was not. Only 40% of respondents thought that the trucking industry was doing a satisfactory job with respect to the environment.

On the topic of drivers, 78% of respondents thought that trucker behaviour was satisfactory. Seventy-one per cent thought they drove carefully and 61% thought they were courteous to other users of the road.

However, 60% of respondents would like to see truckers go more slowly and 58% would like to see drivers leave more space between them and the cars in front of them.

Sixty per cent of respondents thought there were too many trucks on the road during rush hours. Forty-four per cent thought there was sufficient monitoring of trucks on the road by control officers, and 50% thought there was not enough monitoring by control officers.

Among other findings, male respondents held a slightly more favourable view of the industry and truckers than did women, and urban dwellers had a somewhat less favourable view of them than did rural dwellers.

Now that the Forum has a more clear and objective portrait of how the public views the trucking industry, it has a better idea where to focus its attention.

“The Forum is now working to provide better information and facts to the public about trucking and truckers, in order to improve the negative perceptions,” Cayouette explains. “We are looking for partners associated with the trucking industry to send these messages.”

As an example, the Forum wants the public to know that the new generation of engines significantly reduce pollution, and that other technologies provide significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Forum also wants the public to understand that trucks are less responsible for congestion than cars, and to teach them how to interact more safely with trucks.

Of particular interest was Cayouette’s concern that truckers might see themselves as the public sees them.

“Carriers and truckers must carry a positive message if they want to be well perceived. We will check if it is possible that truckers might be their own worst enemy for their image.”

The survey results can be read at: www.forum-cam.qc.ca.


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