ELDs, GHG Phase 2 regs, and the driver shortage are trucking’s top three issues according to OTA’s David Bradley

by Sonia Straface

TORONTO, Ont. – At the PeopleNet Canada Transportation Symposium in downtown Toronto today, David Bradley, president and CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association was invited to speak to attendees about what, from his perspective, are the biggest challenges facing the transportation industry today.

Bradley said that currently there are three “game-changer” issues affecting the trucking industry and that they should be the focus for the industry going forward if it wants to prosper. Though claiming to be upbeat and hopeful for the sector’s future, Bradley warned that if government and industry don’t take these issues seriously, it could be in some hot water.

ISSUE #1: Mandating ELDs

In March 2015, the federal Transport Minister at the time, Lisa Raitt, announced that she was personally supporting the use of electronic logging devices in order to improve safety for everyone on the road.

However, there’s a new Transport Minister in town, (Marc Garneau was named Transport Minister earlier this month) and Bradley said he’s hopeful that despite this change, Canada will move forward and mandate ELDs in the near future.

“I’m always optimistic, I have to in my business or I’d go out of my mind, and the fact that we have a space man as our new Minister of Transport suggests to me that he knows a little bit about transportation, logistics, and the need for communication and the need to monitor things,” he said.

Bradley expressed his disdain for the fact that Canada has taken a backseat when it comes to leading the way with mandating ELDs in North America since it was initially ahead of the curve.

“Canada was ahead…at least Canada’s trucking industry was ahead,” he said. “We were the first association in North America a decade ago to take the position that wherever any truck where currently the driver was required to use a paper log book should be replaced with an ELD of some sort. That was 10 years ago and I think that we had hoped at that time that Canada would lead North America. We were ahead of the US at the time, however our governments chose not to pursue the issue. But, I have some hope that things are starting to change.”

He said that old arguments for why ELDs should be voluntary, like cost and productivity no longer hold water, and added that ELDs could actually help the relationship between the driver and enforcement.

“The relationship between the driver, the carrier and the enforcement officer is going to change,” he said. “Right now so much of it is focused on…’Is the driver lying to me? Is he/she trying to cover something up?’ But once you’ve got an ELD, all of a sudden you’re talking about facts.”

ISSUE #2: GHG Phase 2 regulations

“In no time in our industry’s history has our carriers’ economic goals been as aligned with society’s goals in terms of the environment, specifically GHG emissions, than they have ever been,” said Bradley when discussing the issue of GHG Phase 2 regulations. “It’s a good thing because it appears the new government is going to be taking a proactive approach to GHG reduction than the previous federal government.”

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2, from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is set to apply fuel efficiency standards to trucks and engines beginning in model year 2021.

Now, it’s up to Environment Canada and Transport Canada to develop a similar rule. But Bradley said he doesn’t want Canada to play second fiddle and simply mirror the US regulations.

“We have to go about it intelligently. Canada is way behind in terms of developing the policy and framework and I for one, don’t like Canadian laws being developed by US congress,” he said, adding that Phase 2 regs are a whole new kettle of fish in comparison to Phase 1 regs, because Phase 2 involves trailer regulations.

ISSUE #3: Driver shortage

In order to attack the driver shortage issue – which according to the Conference Board of Canada will reach 33,000 for-hire drivers and cause a major crisis – we have to look at compensation and training, said Bradley.

“It’s a very complex issue and there are issues with compensation as there always are when you’re talking about a shortage of anything,” he said. “Compensation hasn’t gone up though, as it should in our industry. We have to be competitive, in order to attract people from other sectors, or those are are looking for work.”

He added that the industry cannot be complacent and should alter driver pay because “nobody else can solve this issue, except the industry itself” and that the role for government in helping solve the driver shortage issue is to make driving a skilled trade.

“Trucking should be a skilled trade. Not to disparage hair dressers, but that is a skilled occupation, whereas truck driving isn’t,” he said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. What we’ve been pushing for is mandatory entry level training and have the occupation deemed to be skilled. How can it be designated a skilled trade when there’s no training?”

He added that the industry needs to step up and recognize drivers’ skills too and said that decals on trucks placed by companies who are looking for drivers who need “no education” to apply, pushes the industry backwards.

“Not withstanding the issues I mentioned, for the most part and for the foreseeable future…the future of trucking is bright and it will continue to dominate and I look forward to watching that happen,” he said.

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  • It’s simple if you want drivers to stay in the industry then pay them. The last company I worked for use to pay overtime which worked out good and that’s why I stayed then they got rid of it and started by the mile and drop can you imagine running from Cambridge to Toronto making $115 for 14 hrs work uh no. I got sick and tired of this practice so I left and got a job working in a factory/warehouse making more money hmmmmm something isn’t right here. I would have loved to stay in that industry but you’ve cut pay too much and there’s no more respect for the experienced driver just replace them with a new driver they’re willing to work for nothing. You have a lot of older drivers who want to go back driving but you guys and girls in management won’t listen. I have 25 years experience and would love to go back driving but I want to be paid. Where I work now I know of 5 drivers that think the same way I do about driving a truck and that’s just my lunchroom and I’ve talked to other people from other rooms and they have a lot of x drivers and the few I’ve talked to said same thing. SO it’s simple pay us and treat your experienced drivers with respect and we will come back.
    P.S. Why don’t you send surveys out and ask us why we left or even put a survey in your edition for a month or two and find out why drivers have left the industry. I read your internet news every day just to find out what’s going on in the industry so if you put a survey out I will definitely reply.. MAC

  • The driver shortage is a myth. The only shortages in this industry is driver pay and driver respect. If the driver shortage was true wouldn’t there be no gas to pump, wouldn’t the shelves @ Walmart, Sobeys and Home Hardware be empty, wouldn’t factories shut down due to no materials being in stock. Wouldn’t gas stations be running out of gasoline? Don’t drink David Bradley’s Kool-Aid. He just want to import cheap off shore drivers.

  • Long haul truck driver and cross border drivers are to my view trade people same has a train conductor or a airplane pilot.
    So if any companies would retain their drivers they have to think if they do cross border business 45 cents /miles don’t cut in when you think that they average time on the road is 10 plus days away and this driver has to cough up the exchange just to survive.
    Things will be different when E-log will become law and what should come with it is a guarantee of getting subsidies for money exchange and protection with insurances which I never seen any company offering travel insurance protection.
    Hopefully the new generation of drivers will demand these protections and security.