OTA-South Asian Biz Meeting Highlights Key Trucking Issues

Trucking company and business executives from the Indo-Canadian business community got the rundown of key trucking industry issues at special information session this week hosted by OTA.

The town hall meeting was the first event OTA held with the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and it was preceded by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations, vowing to work more closely together.

“Both of our organizations want to grow our membership in the South Asian community and within the trucking industry, so tonight is the beginning of our partnership together,” said Stephen Laskowski, president of the OTA. “Both organizations are strong and will be stronger working together.”

As reported by James Menzies of Truck News:

If attendance at the first joint meeting was any indication, the partnership has potential About 160 people registered to attend and it was a standing room only crowd that gathered Feb. 22.

They were there to hear OTA officials discuss key issues facing the trucking industry, including: electronic logging devices (ELDs); the legalization of marijuana; administrative monetary penalties (AMPS) at the border; mandatory entry-level training (MELT) standards; autonomous vehicles; and overtime pay.

Geoff Wood, vice-president of operations and safety, got the discussion rolling with an overview of the US ELD mandate that goes into effect at the end of this year and a similar regulation in Canada, which will follow. All Canadian carriers operating in the US will require drivers to use ELDs by December 2017. The Canadian mandate is lagging by a couple of years, but Wood said progress is being made.

He also told carriers in the room the mandate presents some opportunities.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the industry to seize the moment,” he said. “We understand what goes on out in the business world. There’s this fear that if I don’t do it (illegally), maybe my competitor will. Electronic logs are a great equalizer and an important regulation for any business that wants to compete on business management as opposed to other means.”

Jonathan Blackham, policy and government affairs assistant, spoke about the legalization of marijuana and its possible effects on the trucking industry. What this means for trucking companies remains unclear. A recent Task Force report commissioned by the federal government put forward more than 80 recommendations and touched on the two main concerns of the trucking industry, Blackham said: impairment while driving and the use of marijuana by employees in safety-sensitive occupations, including truck driving.

“The Task Force was tough on impaired driving, but not as tough when it came to safety-sensitive positions,” Blackham said.

Carriers will need to update their drug and alcohol policies once marijuana is legalized, he warned. The OTA is conducting research to see how these policies will need to be updated and hopes to have materials available later this year.

A big concern for Canadian cross-border carriers is the excessive application of AMPS fines. Lak Shoan, program and education coordinator at OTA, said carriers that don’t meet pre-clearance requirements under the Canada Border Services Agency’s ACI program are facing compounding fine amounts. For example, the first violation incurs a $2,000 charge, the second within a year will net a $4,000 fine, the third an $8,000 charge, etc.

This system, Shoan contended, is unfair – especially to larger carriers that cross the border thousands of times per year.

“We view this as overly punitive,” Shoan said. “There need to be major tweaks to the system as it’s currently set up to take into consideration the volume of transactions occurring at the border.”

OTA’s vice-president of communications, Marco Beghetto, gave a brief overview of autonomous trucking, which has the potential to drastically change the industry. The association is looking at the implications of running autonomous vehicles in Canada, where unique operating conditions are faced.

“We have unique operating conditions, topography, weather,” Beghetto said. “We want to make sure that whatever is happening is happening in compliance with the real-life operations here in Canada.”

Some challenges include: how the systems will work in adverse weather; who will be liable when something goes wrong; how prepared drivers will be to intervene when circumstances require them to if they’re not focused behind the wheel all of the time; and how rules such as hours-of-service can be updated.

Read the full Truck News report here.

Scroll to Top