OTTAWA, Ont. — Last week the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) board of directors endorsed a campaign calling for the elimination of restrictions on empty trailer moves by foreign truck drivers operating in either Canada or the US.
This is seen by the CTA as an important step in the improvement of cross-border productivity, as it would reduce driver wait times and allow for more efficient equipment utilization.
Liberalization and harmonization of trucking equipment cabotage rules by customs authorities in the US and Canada in the late 90s was intended to provide the industry in both countries with greater flexibility when operating across the border. However, no parallel changes were made to immigration restrictions on foreign drivers in either Canada or the US and as a result, the rules for drivers are out of sync with the rules for the trucks they are operating, noted the association.
“CTA fully appreciates the complexity of the debate surrounding foreign drivers,” noted David Bradley, CEO of the CTA. “But it has always seemed odd that it is fine for a foreign driver to move an empty trailer if he sits and waits for it to be unloaded, whereas he and his carrier risk severe penalties if, instead of waiting, they drop the full trailer and pick up an empty from the consignee’s yard. Both activities are part and parcel of an international movement, and neither involves the domestic movement of cargo by a foreign driver.”
In particular, a foreign driver cannot reposition an empty trailer unless he either arrived, or will depart, with that same trailer. This would force drivers to wait for their trailers to be unloaded, moving to a pick-up point to be loaded for the return trip home, or the carrier to hire a domestic driver to move the empty trailer.
“Governments on both sides of the border are constantly talking about ways to improve productivity within North America,” said Bradley. “A change such as this will help Canadian and US carriers alike to make better use of drivers and equipment, and to improve the services they can provide on both sides of the border. If this change can be accomplished, CTA would be interested in exploring other, more significant reforms, in concert with industry and government on both sides of the border.”
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