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14 tractor-trailers destroyed in western New York fire
Trucking News

Fire destroyed 14 tractor-trailers at Draper Trucking in Holland, New York Aug. 20 (Photo by Holland Volunteer Fire Department)

A fire destroyed a western New York trucking company’s facility and 14 tractor-trailers Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Fire officials told WIBV-TV facilities of Draper Trucking in Holland, which is southeast of Buffalo, are a total loss after a fire that was reported at about 5:30 p. m. Tuesday.

No cause for the fire was given and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office continues its investigation.

Crews from 18 local departments responded to the blaze, said to have started in a metal-sided pole barn.

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Truck driver arrested for hauling hemp in South Dakota
Trucking News

A truck driver transporting hundreds of pounds of hemp to Minnesota from Colorado has been arrested in South Dakota and charged with marijuana possession.

The Minnesota Hemp Association's Joe Radinovich complains that South Dakota is violating the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp.

"Because of the actions of South Dakota Law Enforcement and the inability of Governor Noem and the South Dakota Legislature to resolve this issue, the businessmen involved have lost tens of thousands of dollars."

Radinovich says the load of hemp had been tested in Colorado to ensure that it was well below the legal threshold to be categorized as marijuana.

The driver was stopped for speeding in Jackson County in July on Interstate 90. The arrest affidavit said that the trooper "smelled a strong odor of marijuana."

Hemp is legal in 47 states, but not in South Dakota. A State Highway Patrol Spokesman points out that transporting hemp, that happens to be legal in other states, through South Dakota is still illegal.

Governor Noem has said that one of the problems she has with legalizing hemp is the law enforcement challenges because of its connection to marijuana.

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Could prejudice be another factor in driver shortage?
Trucking News

Underlying prejudices tend to be a subject no one particularly enjoys talking about, but it’s something that needs to be discussed, including within the trucking industry.

That’s not to say trucking is full of bigots. In fact, the vast majority of those I speak to in the industry welcome those from all cultures with open arms.

But as is the case in many sectors in our society, discrimination does exist. On rare occasions, I have been contacted by a reader who exhibits prejudice against the growing number of immigrant drivers.

But could this be a reason why we are seeing a changing of the guard with truck drivers, resulting in a diminishing number of Caucasian male drivers entering the industry?

Traditionally, truck drivers in Canada (and the U.S.) have been white males. Our own research at Newcom Media proves this, showing how as recent as 1996, there were only 4,655 visible minority truck drivers in all of Canada. By 2016, that number had risen to 44,490.

The majority of immigrant drivers come from South Asia. Between 1996 and 2016 the number of South Asian drivers increased from 2,355 to 32,260 – nearly 30,000 in two decades.

According to a National Household Survey, there were 283,185 truck drivers employed in Canada in 2011. So, even if using Newcom’s 2016 stats, immigrants make up 15.7% of truck drivers in the country. Compared to 1.6% just 20 years earlier, this is a significant jump.

But has immigration had an impact on why more young white males are not choosing a career as a truck driver?

On one hand, you could argue it has had no impact at all. The number of truck drivers needed to haul freight has only gone up since 1996, as had the population and demand for goods. So, 20 years ago, there were plenty of white, Canadian males to fill those driver seats.

I use the term Canadian white males rather generally because traditionally, Caucasian males were by far the most common image in Canada, same for females. Canada has always had large numbers of immigrants coming into the county, but not until recently have they primarily been from countries like India, the Philippines, and China. During the early 1920s, people moving to Canada were predominantly from European countries, with those from Britain given the highest priority.

Since the early ’70s, however, those moving to Canada have been described as visible minorities.

According to the Canadian Immigration Newsletter, between April 1 and July 1 of 2018, Canada’s population grew by 168,687, 82% of which was due to immigration. That’s a lot.

With this trend poised to continue into the foreseeable future, one could argue that the traditional Canadian truck driver (Caucasians) has presumed a new reality in the trucking industry. A reality that without immigrant drivers, specifically South Asians, the industry will suffer immense shortages, and therefore the influx of drivers who are visible minorities will carry on.

Is the increase in immigrant drivers enough to steer some potential drivers away from the industry? It could be in some cases, and would reveal how prejudice can have a negative impact on an entire industry.

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Motorcyclist critically injured in south Ottawa crash
Trucking News

A motorcyclist was flown to hospital in critical condition following a collision with a transport truck Tuesday afternoon.

The crash happened on Dalmeny Road between Nixon Drive and Gordon Murdock Road in the far south end of Ottawa, near Osgoode.

The victim, who suffered multi-system trauma, was taken to the Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus trauma unit in an Ornge air ambulance, according to paramedics.

 

Police closed a section of Dalmeny Road Tuesday, and it reopened at about 5 a.m. Wednesday.

No other information was available.

The collision investigation unit is looking into the incident.

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Funding Available Through NRCan’s Green Freight Assessment Program
Trucking News

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has launched the Implementation Phase of the Green Freight Assessment Program (GFAP), where trucking companies that have completed a green freight assessment can apply for funding towards fuel reducing technologies in the trucking sector.

Qualifying participants can submit proposals until September 30, 2019, with successful applicants being notified of their approval by email after November 1, 2019. Information regarding program qualifications and the application process is available on NRCan’s website.

Under the Implementation Phase, NRCan will provide cost-sharing contributions up to $100,000 to help fleets implement fuel saving and fuel switching technologies resulting from their assessment recommendations. Recommendations received through a freight assessment will help companies make data-driven investment decisions to help reduce their fuel costs, and in turn, their environmental impact.

NRCan will provide up to 50% of the funding towards fuel reducing technologies and/or up to 50% of the incremental value of a vehicle that utilizes lower carbon fuels. Participating companies will be responsible for contributing the remaining 50% which can include cash contributions, in-kind contributions (e.g. installation, training, etc.) or contributions from other levels of government

Verification of your third-party assessment, which must have been completed within the last year, will be required as part of the application process. The GFAP offers up to $10,000 to cover the assessment which identifies changes that can be made to improve the environmental impact of your company, as well as its current operations to increase cost savings.

For more information about the program and program eligibility, you can contact NRCan at nrcan.freightassessment-evaluationdeflotte.rncan@canada.ca.

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Feds fund trucking improvements at the Port of Montreal
Trucking News

Canadian government to invest C$18.5 million for logistics system, bridge, signs and “intelligent” communications to boost flow of trucks as part of a broader effort to improve trade infrastructure


The Canadian government will invest C$18.5 million to improve trucking operations at the Port of Montreal, and alleviate the congestion accompanying record volumes of cargo. 

The investment, equivalent to nearly US$14 million, will fund a digital logistics system, a bridge, electronic signs and an “intelligent communications network.” 

In an August 12 statement, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said, “Upgrades to the port infrastructure will ensure that Canada’s transportation networks remain competitive and efficient. The investment at the Port will also help reduce congestion and truck traffic in and around its various terminals.”

The improvements are designed to increase efficiency for the 2,500 trucks that access Canada’s second-largest port daily.  

Montreal has already dramatically cut down truck processing times in an effort to reduce congestion, taking measures that include extending gate hours. The port processed trucks in 47 minutes on average during during the first seven months of 2019, seven minutes less than the same period of 2018.

Montreal hit 1.6 million 20-foot equivalent units in 2018 – the fifth consecutive year of record cargo growth. The port benefits from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union.

The investment in Montreal is part of a larger effort by the federal government to improve international trade flows. The government announced more than C$40 million in funding to that end during the past week. 

The new funding includes C$20 million to boost rail capacity in Abbotsford, British Columbia, which will benefit the Port of Vancouver, and C$12.4 million to improve infrastructure at Grand Hills Railway in Saskatchewan. 

Transport Canada also providing nearly C$4.8 million of funding for the Port of Johnstown in Ontario to upgrade its grain facilities.

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CAA Niagara urges drivers to slow down, move over
Trucking News

Tow truck drivers can be seriously injured or killed on the job by careless drivers

CAA Niagara is urging drivers to slow down and move over when passing a tow truck.

"Highways are busier now than they've ever been," said Trevor Kinghorn, emergency roadside service manager for CAA Niagara, who admitted he worries about his drivers.

While people who fail to slow down and move over for tow trucks and emergency vehicles can face fines upwards of $2,000 plus demerit points, he said that doesn't seem to be enough of a deterrent.

The Slow Down Move Over law was amended in 2015 to include tow trucks, and yet CAA Niagara still must continually remind drivers.

Parked on the shoulder of the QEW, Kinghorn said most transport trucks move over one lane to give the tow truck space, but only about five per cent of other vehicles comply.

It's a scary feeling, being out on the side of a busy highway, exposed to the high-speed traffic, and he said any truck driver can attest that the force of a passing transport truck can actually pull you into traffic.

"It's a hard experience to describe, because it's very dangerous."

The number of tow truck drivers injured or killed on the job is quite high in Canada, he said, but there have been no fatalities in Niagara.

That being said, Kinghorn could easily list employees who have suffered injuries because of incidents that have occurred while pulled over harnessing a customer's vehicle to a truck.

In one example, a distracted driver hit a worker's tow truck while it was parked on the Highway 406 shoulder, pushing the truck into the car being serviced and throwing the worker into a ditch.

That particular worker had to take six months off work to recover, he said.

"This isn't a job for everyone."

Emergency roadside service driver Jamey Townsend, who has more than 20 years of experience rescuing stranded drivers, said he's had some close calls of his own.

He recalled one driver who was texting and driving and drove right into the front driver's side of his truck while he was doing a tire change.

If it weren't for the customer who grabbed him and launched him into a ditch, he said he could have been seriously injured. That truck ended up being a complete writeoff.

"I think my life matters, and I want to go home to my family every night," said Townsend.

It takes mere seconds to slow down and change lanes, he said, so there's no excuse for putting a life in danger.

Despite the danger, Townsend said he loves his job. He gets to meet new people and even though they're often having a bad day, they're usually pretty happy to see him.

"You just tell 'em, 'You know what, your car is replaceable and you aren't.'"

St. Catharines resident Brad Butler, whose car had to be towed to a nearby garage, said drivers like Townsend offer a valuable service.

"You're putting your life in your hands when vehicles are driving by," he said, adding it doesn't take much for an accident to occur.

"It's a job that has to be done and I'm grateful they do it."

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210 pounds of suspected cocaine seized at Ambassador Bridge
Trucking News

Windsor — More than 210 pounds of suspected cocaine was seized by Canadian authorities at the Ambassador Bridge, officials said Monday.

The Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they seized 213 pound of the suspected drug on July 30 from a tractor trailer at the Ambassador Bridge Commercial Operations in Windsor after it was referred for a secondary examination.

During the examination, officers and a drug-detecting dog found 80 bricks of suspected cocaine inside the commercial load. The driver was arrested and the suspected cocaine was seized.

Authorities have identified the truck's driver as a 27-year-old from Lasalle, Quebec, Canada.

Police continue to investigate, officials said, but he faces charges that include the importation of controlled drugs and substances and possession of drugs for the purposes of trafficking.

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2 dead, 3 injured in 3-vehicle collision on Hwy. 401 in Mississauga, Ont.
Trucking News

Two people were killed and three were injured in a three-vehicle collision on Highway 401 in Mississauga, Ont., provincial police say. 

As of 12 noon on Monday, the highway had reopened. It had been closed hours to allow crews to clean up.

According to the provincial police, three people were transported to hospital with minor injuries and have since been released.

Two others were pronounced dead in hospital, according to Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, spokesperson for Ontario Provincial Police's Highway Safety Division.

Schmidt said reports are that the driver of a red Chevrolet Corvette travelling eastbound on Highway 401 in the collector lane, lost control of their vehicle after overtaking the transport truck.

 

"The Corvette slammed into the side of the transport truck, rolled over the concrete median into the express lanes and slammed into a silver vehicle," Schmidt said.

"The transport truck was completely consumed by fire."

Schmidt said the collision had resulted in "massive damage" to the median concrete wall which separates the express lanes from the collector lane.

In the hours after the collision, Schmidt predicted the cleanup would take "the better portion of the night."

Do not drive the wrong way on highway, police say

Peel Regional Police said the fatal collision at Highway 401 had prompted motorists stuck in traffic to drive the wrong way on the highway as well as across surrounding green spaces to get around the collision.

"Officers are working as fast as possible to help drivers around the accident safely," Peel police said in a tweet, in which they urged motorists not to drive the wrong way on the highway.

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Trucking HR Canada to honor top fleet employers
Trucking News

OTTAWA, Ont.  – Trucking HR Canada will honor the best workplaces in the trucking and logistics industry at its annual Top Fleet Employers awards gala this fall.

The event will take place at Toronto’s Palais Royale on Oct. 17.

In addition to celebrating and recognizing top fleets, Trucking HR Canada will present awards for:

  • Top small, medium, large and private fleet
  • HR leader of the year
  • Achievements of excellence in a number of categories including workplace culture, training and skills development, workplace diversity, HR innovation and gender equity.

“The Top Fleet Employer program provides Canadian fleets with an exceptional opportunity to be recognized as leaders among their peers and showcase the industry as a great place to work,” said Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada.

“This gala evening provides a unique opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments.”

Click here for more information.

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Fired Trucker Fatally Shoots Boss, Self, At Distribution Center
Trucking News
Plainville

Workers at a Pennsylvania distribution center are reeling this morning after a murder-suicide centering around a recently fired worker.

According to a report from the Eastern Adams Regional Police Department, the fatal shooting happened on Wednesday, August 21, at the the Plainville Farms distribution center in New Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Police say that around 5:20 a.m., 58 year old transportation manager John Frey arrived for work and parked in the employee lot at the distribution center. As Frey was exiting his vehicle, a Dodge Caravan also parked in the employee lot and 75 year old truck driver Phillip Michael Hughes got out and confronted Frey.

Hughes fired two shots at Frey at point-blank range before he turned the gun on himself.

The coroner pronounced both men dead around 6 a.m.

Police say that Hughes was “an independent trucking contractor working for Plainville Farms who was recently terminated the day before.”

The incident has been classified as a murder-suicide, according to police.

Plainville Farms is a poultry plant that employs about 600 workers. They issued the following statement about the incident:

The Plainville Farms family experienced a terrible, senseless tragedy at our Distribution Center in New Oxford early this morning. Plainville Farms is working closely with law enforcement in their investigation of this fatal incident that involved a manager at Plainville and an independent contractor.

Plainville Farms is a family and we are in mourning. Counseling will be provided to all of our employees to help with the healing process. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that have been affected by this tragedy.

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Open house to share plans for oversized load corridor
Trucking News
With work set to begin later this year on a four-year project to create a dedicated oversized load corridor in Sarnia and St. Clair Township, officials have organized a public open house Thursday to share details of the plan.

With work set to begin later this year on a four-year project to create a dedicated oversized load corridor in Sarnia and St. Clair Township, officials have organized a public open house Thursday to share details of the plan.

The session runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion on Albert Street in Corunna and will provide information on the first phase of the $12-million project.

Once completed, the corridor should reduce the cost and effort needed to move large industrial vessels and components through the community to local industries, or to Sarnia Harbour for shipping to customers elsewhere.

Sarnia and St. Clair Township are home to several industrial fabrication and service companies that build the components, as well as industries that purchase them both locally and from suppliers outside the area.

Moving those oversized loads through the community takes a fleet of support trucks and crews to raise overhead utility lines, adding to the cost and creating safety concerns.

The corridor project is designed to permanently raise utility lines, adjust intersections and improve facilities at Sarnia Harbour to make moving the loads easier and safer.

Lyle Johnson, who was hired last fall by Sarnia to manage the corridor project, said the first phase includes relocation of overhead utility lines in the areas of Plank Road, Churchill Line, Kimball Road and Petrolia Line, as well as minor work to widen corners.

That phase is expected to begin later this year and be completed by early 2020, he said.

Local funding is coming from Sarnia, Lambton County, St. Clair Township and the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance, an industry group that began asking for the corridor several years ago.

“The community and contractors and the project are all working together to make this happen,” Johnson said.

A study carried out for the alliance said a dedicated corridor could boost the local economy by creating a significant number of jobs in the coming years.

The municipalities and industry pledged $6 million for the corridor and the federal government announced this month it would contribute up to $6 million.

“That was a major milestone,” Johnson said. “It solidifies the project.”

He said Thursday’s open house is being held in St. Clair Township so residents in the Kimball Road and Petrolia Line areas on the route, who are expected to be impacted in the first phase, have the opportunity to see what’s planned.

“If they have any issues, we can try to address them before they get too far along,” Johnson said.

Members of the project team will be there to provide information about the route, construction impacts, benefits and the anticipated timelines.

The full project has four road and infrastructure phases in addition to work to be carried out at the harbour, he said.

A second public open house is planned for this fall for residents and businesses along the route on Exmouth Street and Murphy Road, where the project’s next phase is planned for 2020, Johnson said.

“Phase one and two are probably the biggest phases” and address “the majority of the overhead infrastructure” along the corridor route, he said.

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Lakeshore asking truck traffic to stop using local roads for detour
Trucking News

A County Road 42 closure has truck traffic taking local roads to get through town instead of approved detours.

Truck traffic is restricted on local roads between Manning and West Puce Roads and between County Road 22 and County Road 34 while the County Road 42 bridge over Puce River unders a $816,000 rehabilitation project.

The Town of Lakeshore and the Ontario Provincial Police are enforcing a "zero tolerance" blitz to crack down on truckers who don't follow posted detours.

According to the town, local municipal roads are not constructed to withstand regular truck traffic. The County of Essex and the town are working together for detour sign placement.

"We want to protect Lakeshore's assets," said Albert Dionne, manager of public works for Lakeshore. "Use the County of Essex posted detours or Highway 401, otherwise you will be ticketed."

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PMTC eastern seminar to focus on youth, retention, and engagement
Trucking News

MILTON, Ont. – The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), along with Trucking Human Resources Sector Council Atlantic, will hold an eastern regional educational seminar Sept. 18 in Wallace, N.S.

With a focus youth recruitment, retention, and engagement, the event will cover such topics as the federally-regulated electronic logging device from PMTC president Mike Millian. Youth initiatives and engagement will also be discussed, presented by Matt Richardson, sales and operations manager for KRTS and PMTC Young Leaders Group chairman. Other topics include the Smart Start Program and how it helps recruit and support new drivers, Office of Immigration, and a panel showcasing youth in the industry.

In addition to Millian and Richardson, Leanne Quail of Paul Quail Transport will speak during the event.

The 5th annual eastern seminar will take place at Fox Harbour Resort and will run from 8:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. Registration is $50 for PMTC members and $125 for non-members. Visit www.pmtc.ca for more information.

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Daimler to establish new PDC in Canada
Trucking News

Daimler Trucks North America plans to establish a new parts distribution center in Canada as it pushes toward a goal of completing truck repairs within 24 hours.

A location has yet to be announced, and the OEM is in the midst of a “center of gravity” study to decide exactly where it should go, says Stefan Kurschner, senior vice-president– aftermarket. But he acknowledges that he has a “pretty good idea” where it will be. That will add to a location in Calgary.

The news follows the opening of the latest PDC in Phoenix, Ariz., establishing a network that can deliver parts to 90% of U.S. service points within 12 hours or less.

Other PDCs are located in Atlanta, Ga.; Swedesboro, N.J.; Canton, Ohio; Grand Prairie, Texas; Grimes, Iowa; Whitestown, Ind.; Memphis, Tenn.; Reno, Nev.; and San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

“We need to have the right parts at the right time, at the locations where they’re needed,” Kurschner said, referring to customers who are looking for ever-faster repair times.

Daimler Trucks North America now counts 636 authorized service locations, along with 173 distributor locations, and 251 partner service locations. And their reach is further expanded through a partnership with TA-Petro’s 251 service facilities – amounting to 1,000 service bays, 3,300 technicians, and 450 roadside service vehicles.

“They’re turning [many] trucks within 90 minutes,” adds Paul Romanaggi, Daimler Trucks North America’s new chief customer experience (CX) officer.

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No transports following Tuesday morning rollover
Trucking News

North Highway 99 was down to one lane following a rollover accident about seven miles north of Emporia Tuesday morning.

At 10:39 a.m. dispatch indicated that a semi-trailer and truck had overturned north of Emporia about a mile west of the Reading turnoff on N. Highway 99.

Lyon County Sheriff Jeff Cope said he semi was one of three piloted trucks with oversized loads hauling cooling towers en route to Canada from Tulsa, Oklahoma, when the passenger side tires of the semi went off the roadway and he tipped and lost his load.

The driver was reported to be outside of the vehicle, but complaining of a head injury. He was assessed and treated at the scene.

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Critter couriers: Trucker who transports rescue animals needs drivers to join hi
Trucking News

Josh Aldrich is a truck driver who keeps strange company in his cab. 

The Cranbrook resident voluntarily transports rescue animals to their foster or "furever" homes across British Columbia.

Aldrich, founder of Fur the Haul of It, has had baby elk and deer, skunks, raptors and even a marmot sit shotgun in his truck and he is hoping some other truckers are open to having wild passengers ride along.

He told Daybreak South host Chris Walker he doesn't like the idea of rescue animals going into the hold of an airplane and would rather take them in his truck

 

Aldrich transports wild animals, as well as rescue dogs and cats, around B.C., and has other drivers who help with transport to Alberta, but he is looking for drivers who can make trips to Saskatchewan and the United States. 

"I like to call them friends. Some people call them suckers that like to help me out," said Aldrich with a chuckle.

 

Drivers are provided with critter food and animal carriers. They also get the benefit of a pal on the open road.

"Even the stinky little skunks I have had in the cab of the truck with me,' said Aldrich, who said all the drivers treat the animals with love, like one of their own pets.

His favourite passenger was a fawn he was transporting on a day his truck was acting up. He said every time he stepped out of his rig to check his vehicle the baby deer would cry for him to come back.

 

Aldrich spoke to Walker from his Cranbrook home. They were briefly distracted by loud purring.

Aldrich explained it was his Asian leopard cat, a rescue from Sparwood, B.C., that has found a permanent home with him.

"My house is pretty much a zoo," said Aldrich. "I do a lot of rescues, but I am not very good at the re-homing part, I guess."

 

But keeping all the critters he carries would mean missing the moment when he rolls up and their new family gets to meet them.

He loves "watching their faces light up" and seeing how excited both the people and animal get when it arrives at its "furever" home.

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Semi truck operator drove at more than double legal booze limit: Mounties
Trucking News

A semi truck driver was hauling a full load while driving at more than twice the legal alcohol limit, say Canmore Mounties.

On Monday at 11:46 a.m., two motorists called 911 to report a westbound tractor trailer driving erratically on the Trans-Canada Highway.

“He was swerving on the road,” said Canmore RCMP Cpl. Jon Cormier.

Mounties pulled over the B.C. man and conducted a breath test, which he failed.

He was taken to the Canmore RCMP detachment for a further test, which showed him to be more than double the legal blood-alcohol limit of .08.

“It is scary because his trailer was loaded and the impact and risk (of an accident) would have been bigger,” said Cormier.

The driver was released facing pending impaired-driving charges, and his driver’s licence was suspended until at least the time of a Sept. 18 court appearance.

“It’s not a very common thing but, then again, how many car drivers do we catch and how many actually (drive impaired)?” said Cormier.

Monday’s arrest wasn’t an entirely isolated case.

On Aug. 8, another semi truck driver was arrested for driving at twice the legal blood-alcohol limit while idling his vehicle in a hotel parking lot in Thompson, Man.

Last November, the driver of a tractor trailer was stopped after allegedly driving the wrong way on the Trans-Canada Highway. at Brigus Junction, N.L., while impaired.

And last May, Mounties were horrified when they pulled over a semi-trailer driver near Jacquet River, N.B., who was allegedly three times over the legal limit.

That traffic stop resulted from a public tip.

“We can’t be everywhere, we depend a lot on what the public sees,” said Cormier.

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Car Hauler Jack Cooper Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Trucking News
Car Hauler Jack Cooper Ventures has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy citing difficulty competing with its mostly non-unionized competition.
 - Photo via Jack Cooper Transport Facebook


Car Hauler Jack Cooper Ventures has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy citing difficulty competing with its mostly non-unionized competition.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Solus Alternative Asset Management has agreed to buy Jack Cooper’s assets and allow the company to operate normally through the bankruptcy process.

Jack Cooper pre-negotiated the company’s restructuring to minimize any impacts from the bankruptcy on workers, unions and lenders, according to the bankruptcy filing with the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division court.

Jack Cooper is one of only two unionized car hauling fleets along with Cassens Transport, operating a fleet of over 1,600 vehicles and a network of 39 terminals across the U.S. and Canada.

Jack Cooper was operating at a 10% to 30% cost disadvantage relative to its non-union competitors, the company stated in the bankruptcy filing. Coupled with difficult overall industry dynamics, from 2016 to 2018, the company’s revenue declined by 12.3% and unit volumes it shipped dropped by 16.9%. The company expected further declines in 2019.

Some examples of the difficult industry dynamics included a major decline in the number of vehicles that Jack Cooper shipped for Toyota, which was its third largest customer. Over the two year span, the company lost 80% of Toyota’s business as the car company moved to non-union competitors.

General Motors, which makes up 48% of Jack Cooper’s revenue and is the car hauler’s largest customer, received a 5% price concession under a new three-year contract that was executed in 2019 and includes no annual price increases. Ford received a 1% price concession this year.

Jack Cooper also cited unsustainable collective bargaining agreements with its workers unions, with requirements to contribute to multiple pension funds.

Another drain on revenues was increased maintenance costs from Jack Cooper’s aging fleet. The truck fleet’s average age was over 14 years as the company was unable to invest in new equipment and refurbishments.

The lost business resulted in the closing of 17 terminals and cost around 250 drivers and mechanics their jobs.

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Inspection blitz focuses on hazmat shipments
Trucking News

Hazardous materials tanker

MONTREAL, Que. – Loads of hazardous materials are in the spotlight this week as part of Hazardous Material Week, and this year the inspection blitz is expanding beyond Canada.

Transport Canada has recognized the week since 2013, but the event shifts to August rather than September as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) brings the focus to the U.S. and Mexico.

It’s a highly regulated segment of the trucking industry for good reason. In the event of an accident, the materials in the trailers can cause serious injury, death and property damage – and not only in the area of the collision itself.

Of course, the inspections are not limited to a single week.

“Road inspectors check this type of transportation throughout the year,” says Marie-Josée Michaud, public relations officer for Contrôle routier Québec.

“We have several operations throughout the year targeting different types of transportation. The transportation of hazardous materials is not among the most delinquent. However, this type of transportation must be well supervised, because an incident can often have greater consequences [compared to] a vehicle carrying general merchandise.”

Like the annual Roadcheck blitz, which looks at North America’s broader heavy vehicle fleet, this blitz is used to measure trends and help to standardize related enforcement.

Regulators identify about 3,500 hazardous materials, many of which are used in daily life — such as propane, helium, butane, compressed air, gasoline, diesel, car batteries, chlorine for the pool, fireworks, paint, some glues and solvents.

“The regulation targets all road users who transport hazardous material on the road network. Drivers of passenger vehicles, motor homes, and small businesses such as landscapers and electricians, more often ignore the regulations because their work is not specialized in the transportation of hazardous materials,” says Michaud.

Last year in Quebec alone, roadside inspectors reviewed 5,500 shipments involving hazardous materials, issuing offences for 921 of them —  a violation rate of 16.7%

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