Top 3 issues facing the trucking industry in 2016

Recently, David Bradley, President and CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association, spoke at the PeopleNet Canada Transportation Symposium in Toronto, and shared some of the biggest challenges facing the transportation industry today.

According to Bradley, there are three “game-changer” issues affecting the trucking industry:

1. Mandating electronic logging devices

Canada was ahead of the curve in North America 10 years ago when it announced its support for the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in trucks (currently the driver is required to use a paper log book). But the momentum died down amidst arguments suggesting ELDs should be voluntary, including cost and productivity. With a new Transport Minister, mandating ELDs may be a new topic of discussion in 2016. It’ll also change the relationship between the driver, the carrier and the enforcement officer, says Bradley. “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.”

2. GHG Phase 2 regulations

The new government will also aim to take a proactive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 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 in 2021, to improve fuel economy by 24% before 2027. That’s equivalent to a year’s worth of OPEC imports to the US!

These efficiency standards will not only benefit the environment but also the economy. When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down. There was a time when being pro-environment meant being anti-large-vehicles, but these GHG regulations are likely to change that. Now, it’s up to Environment Canada and Transport Canada to follow suit without simply mirroring US regulations.

3. Driver shortage

According to the Conference Board of Canada, the shortage of drivers will reach 33,000 for-hire drivers in 2020 and can cause a major crisis if the issue isn’t addressed soon. To tackle this, Canada has to take a look at compensation and training, said Bradley.

Compensation hasn’t gone up, but needs to in order to stay competitive and attract workers. Additionally, Bradley stressed the importance of recognizing trucking as a skilled trade, which can only be made possible if the industry steps up and recognizes that drivers’ skills are skills too. Decals on trucks that say they’re looking for drivers who need “no education” to apply pushes the industry backwards in making entry level training mandatory, which will help to designate trucking as a skilled trade.

Despite the challenges facing the trucking industry in the year ahead, its foreseeable future remains bright and promising, and may remain that way if the industry and the government keep these issues top-of-mind.

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