As you’ll see on this month’s cover, I spent May 30 covering the Toronto Regional Truck Driving Championships. At the event, nearly 50 of the Greater Toronto Area’s most skilled drivers competed head-to-head in a variety of competitions, the highlight being an obstacle course that mimics some of the most challenging driving scenarios a pro driver will ever encounter.
These events – some call them Roadeos – are held across Canada and culminate with the National Championships, which will be held this fall in Regina, Sask.
I believe these championships are the greatest showcase our industry has for the skills and professionalism exhibited by our drivers.
Which begs the question, why do so few fleets participate?
Sure, there were about 50 drivers at the Toronto Regionals, but most of them drove for just a handful of fleets. Those who like the championships, like them a lot.
Speedy Transport had eight drivers entered and company CEO Jared Martin was there to root them on. Likewise, Fortigo Freight was well represented and president Elias Demangos was on-hand to support them. Con-Way, YRC, FedEx…these guys get it.
Most of these drivers arrived in company attire and the level of camaraderie on display is unmatched at any other industry function I’ve attended. Pride in the profession is front and centre at the championships. They’re open to the public and free to attend.
For fleets, it’s also a great form of inexpensive remedial training. Drivers spend time preparing for the competition and are forced to complete a written test and also a pre-trip inspection under the watchful eye of an MTO enforcement officer. So why aren’t all fleets encouraging their drivers to participate?
The Toronto Regionals used to attract about 100 drivers just a few short years ago, so participation is clearly waning. Yes, some fleets prefer to host their own, in-house competitions and awards programs – which is fine – but considering the work the volunteers put into hosting the Regionals and Provincials across the country, why not leverage that to supplement your own internal initiatives.
For an industry that cries bloody murder about its drivers not being recognized as the professionals they are, why is it so few fleets show up to support the best showcase of this professionalism that exists? I just don’t get it.
That’s not to say the Toronto Regionals were a bust – far from it. The level of competition was top-notch and a strong team of local winners will go on to represent the area in the Provincials and hopefully from there, the Nationals.
Still, it’s a shame there aren’t more fleets that see the value in taking part in this event, which some have described as the Olympics of trucking. This is an event that merits more support than it receives.