Category Archives: Opinion

Are You a Mobile Support Equipment Operator

Over the years we’ve changed the face of trucking with new cultures and immigration programs, maybe it’s time we change the name. One thing trucking hasn’t improved in is respect. We have improved in technology, we have more training, we have more regulations, but we don’t seem to have any more respect. If you say the term “truck driver” to anyone in the general public you will see their face twist and usually hear something like “ that’s a hard job” or “tough industry.” The only time that changes is when you talk to someone who understands the industry or has driven before.

What if we changed the name? We all respect someone in the Military for the hard work they do and the danger of the job. There are many people in the military either doing the exact same job that a truck driver does, but because of the function of the military people’s perceptions are totally different. If motorists get held up in traffic by a line of trucks they swear and curse at the drivers. If they get held up by a military convoy they salute and wave. Could it be the name that helps to change the perception of the job. I agree that people in the army are amazing in protecting our Country and supporting war efforts for others, but we all know if we were to stop the trucks transporting goods across our Country the shelves would be bare. Does it make us any less important?

Trailer-back

I was reading an advertisement for a job to become a truck driver in the military. No I am not trying to get a job but was curious to see what they would look for in a person and what type of work they would be expected to do. I was expecting the job description to say things like; Must be able to drive a tank, ten years experience hauling helicopters, or something like that. When I read the description it was almost the same as a truck driver job. The items were drive buses, trucks, and tractor trailers. Inspect vehicles, fill out paperwork, maintain the vehicle, etcetera. That sounds much like what a truck driver does. You can see the description for yourself at https://forces.ca/en/career/mobile-support-equipment-operator/.

Here is the difference, the job is not called truck driver for the army but “Mobile Support Equipment Operator.” Doesn’t that sound nice? It is much of the same job with a lot more respect and of course learning to shoot a gun. Marketing has always been the transportation industry’s problem. Whether we change it to a skilled trade or rename it for more respect I think we need to look at that as an industry.

On another note our military personnel are crucial to our freedom and survival as a Country. Please remember those that have served to give us the freedom we now enjoy in Canada and beyond and pause to remember them on November 11th. Thank you to all of our military services for the work you do.

Military-Trucks

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Over Regulating vs Over Promoting, What’s Best for our Industry?

In January 2020 the United States will be launching their drug and alcohol clearing house for commercial drivers that is suppose to offer transparency for truck drivers allowing employers to see the results of testing done on drivers in the industry. This apparently is to make our roads safer and solve the problem of drug and alcohol related deaths behind the wheel. You can read about the new regulations here. https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebanker/2019/10/24/a-shocking-loophole-affecting-road-safety-is-finally-about-to-close/#519cec65770f

Over the last few years we have brought in Mandatory Entry Level Training, Electronic Logging Devices, and changed a number of regulations regarding Hours of Service. I am all for making our roads safer but are regulations the way to do it or are we just making it more of a turn off for people to get into our industry? If you add in all the talk of self-driving trucks, Amazon shipping, and robotic technology it can be very hard to attract talent our industry. We are already driving out the many long term drivers currently doing the job and not attracting the younger generations we need because the industry isn’t attractive. Are we focusing on the right areas in our industry or are we killing our industry?

We can’t tell what will happen in the future but there are opportunities now in the industry in a number of fields. If we spent as much time teaching people to make the right decisions and fixing the real problems in the industry such as safe parking and infrastructure such as separate truck lanes or priority traffic patterns to keep goods moving it would be much more safer and attractive than telling everyone when they should sleep. Regulating an industry that has so many variables is not only making roads unsafe but not attracting the people that we need to carry out the very important task of truck driving.

trucks-crossing-border

What people developing new technology for the trucking industry are not telling us is the price of those trucks and the fact that most small to mid-sized fleets won’t be able to afford those vehicles. They are not telling us that the transportation industry has been slow to follow in technology over the years and that if you were to put a self driving truck in the fleet most people wouldn’t know how to get it to move. I use technology in a day to day basis and believe it is helpful to our lives if it is used to make our lives more efficient and safe.

We need to spend more time showing people why our industry is important and changing the industry to be more attractive to the next generations instead of the way we are doing it now and turning everyone away from an industry that many of us have built a life on. Trucking will change that’s for sure, but I don’t see it going away!

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Being Job Ready in 2019

What does being job ready mean in 2019 and 2020? Does it mean you have to be able to out work the person next to you? Does it mean you have to a university degree in your chosen field? Does it mean you have to have a technological background? What does job ready mean anymore?

Decades ago being job ready means you were willing to put in long hours at work and do what it takes to get the job done. Trucking companies were looking for people that didn’t mind hard work and that’s why people with a farming background succeeded so well in the industry. Being educated was for those with financial resources to get someone to college and many people had grade 10 education or less but had a work ethic that carried them through and gave them a good life. They excelled in the industry because of the farming and mechanical backgrounds allowing them to fix equipment and have pride in their work.

Today those same values are only important to the older drivers that made their careers successful through hard work. Today people are educated and focused more on work / life balance than getting the job done at all costs. As carriers struggle to change with a rolling economy and demands from a changing labour market it is changing what is attracting new drivers to the industry leaving transportation in a fluctuating market. Who are we looking for?

When you apply for a job in the market today you have to have a number of things going for you. Employers want a mix of old and new and that is very hard to find in the same person. They want someone educated and tech savvy with the old values of willing to work long hours and get the job done while being safe. Those people are out there but our industry has not changed the way things have been done for over 30 years. We haven’t shown respect for the time of the driver and we are still looking for someone to work long hours while that someone is good around equipment with a safety mindset. Unfortunately that is not what young people want in their job. What does that mean for being job ready in 2019 and 2020?

Carriers are changing to meet the demand of applicants in our industry so they can attract the talent they need. They are doing their best to add flexibility to their operations with shorter days and flexible start times. Many are now paying for detention time and offering more technology in the trucks. Different types of people are now making up many carrier teams allowing for different operation styles. Driver pay is slowly rising to help attract talent to the workplace.

Team-Drivers

What does the perfect truck driver model look like in 2020? “A truck driver that is educated with a willingness to be better,” would be my statement if I was asked. Trucking offers so many opportunities but many of them you cannot see until you are in the industry. Someone that is willing to take a little blind faith and get started in an industry that is changing rapidly will have many opportunities available to them that they may not be able to get anywhere else. Since our industry has so many career legs to it you can create a custom career path while making money and seeing the Country at the same time and you will be at the forefront of the technological change which is beginning to happen right now. There has never been more opportunity in our industry and for the right mindset the future is unlimited. Trucking will always be here in one form or another and you can be part of it.

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Company vs Freight-Choosing a Carrier

Scrolling through a recent social media website on trucking I noticed a lot of questions from new drivers on whether to go work for a certain company based on the type of freight they haul. Sure drivers do choose carriers based on the type of freight they haul but is that the best way to choose a company that you hope to stay with for a good part of your career?

The question comes down to what do you feel is more important? In my personal opinion choosing the right company to work with far outweighs the type of freight they haul however there are many drivers out there that prefer to work with only flatbed, tanker, automobiles, or more. Much of that is what you’ve been introduced to at the beginning of your career and what has been accessible to you over time. For instance I never pulled B-trains just because I never worked for companies that had those opportunities available. I fell into the hazmat side of the industry due to the companies I worked with did a lot of that type of work. When I look back on my career I worked for good companies so don’t think I would change anything if I could.

Where you are in your career will make the difference in how you answer the question company or freight, it is kind of like the chicken and the egg scenario. I feel it comes down to how long you have been driving and the type of work you enjoy doing.

Let’s start with new drivers. If you are a brand new driver or someone that has been driving for under 5 years then you should be choosing a company to work for that has a good culture, good training / finishing program, and can offer you various types of trips or freight to gain experience. You want to gain experience on the road and if you get hired by a company that offers different types of freight even better. I worked for several companies that had a variety of freight from flatbed or steel, to refrigerated freight, and dry van before settling on a carrier that was specifically hazardous materials. You want a company with a good culture and one that is willing to be patient with someone new as they learn the ropes.

pipe truck

If you have been driving for more than 5 years then you may want to choose a company based on the freight they haul. At this time in your career you may have experienced a certain type of freight and realized you enjoy working with that type of equipment and enjoy the work. Choosing the companies that have that freight type would be the better way to choose a company but only if you know exactly what you want. Even then I would determine the type of freight I want to work with and create a list of those companies, then choose a company by their culture and other criteria.

No matter where you are in your career you want to work for a company that treats you right as an employee no matter what they haul. Choosing a company that has your type of freight, but doesn’t pay you, has you sitting waiting for freight, or has bad equipment won’t offer you a rewarding career as a professional driver. Choose wisely!

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Kim Richardson Talks TTSAO Conference

TTSAO President Kim Richardson wants you to think about the benefits of being an attendee or sponsor of the 5th Annual TTSAO Conference.

Kim Richardson on the 5th annual TTSAO Conference
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KRTS is a proud sponsor of
the 5th Annual TTSAO Conference

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Transportation Combines Multiple Industries Into One for Great Careers

The Transportation industry is not only the one of the largest industries in North America but also one of the most diverse. Why is this important? As someone moving into the industry it allows you many options for employment and a varied career. Let’s explore the the types of industries one would find within trucking and then how to best determine the one that may be best for you.

Possibly the easiest way to get a grasp on the amount of diversity in the transportation industry is to look at all the products that are on the shelves in a store. Each of those products come from a different manufacturer and on a different type of truck. The car you drive, the furniture you have, the electronics on your desk, each of those are an industry within the transportation industry. Many of those products require their own type of truck or delivery method to transport them to the end user location. That’s thousands of different opportunities within one industry called transportation.

Let’s go a step deeper and look at the transport truck itself. If you were to dismantle that truck you would have thousands of pieces laying in front of you. Each one of those pieces comes from a different manufacturer and requires a different type of service person or transport type to make them into the item we know as a truck. If you add the drivers required to be employed to drive all of these trucks, the driver trainers, the mechanics to maintain the equipment you have thousands of jobs available not to mention dispatchers, load planners, and other essential positions. How do you decide where to start to gain employment?

Driver-in-truck

The transportation industry is very diverse and that’s the beauty of it. You can start in one area and branch out over time into other areas of the industry allowing for continued growth in your career. But you have to start somewhere to gain that knowledge and experience that will stay with you for the future. So where do you start?

The best and easiest place to start is with the area that will give you the best understanding of the industry, has the most positions available, and can earn you money right away. That position is in the driver’s seat. This is the foundation that many of us who began our careers by accident have flourished over the years and gone into other areas of the industry with a strong foundation due to our years in the seat as a professional driver. It offers an understanding of the industry that no other position can give no matter how much you study. It teaches you a multitude of training in areas that will be helpful for the future from geography to dealing with people and much more.

How do you decide which area is best for you? Knowing what type of work interests you is the best way to start. Are you mechanically inclined and like to fix things? Do you like to work on your own and travel? Are you good with paperwork or working in a fast paced environment? Do you enjoy technology or training others? All of these areas have multiple jobs available for the right person and many of these jobs may be available at one company. There is no reason anyone should be unemployed if they have some focus for the future. It means you just have to get started and investigate the best fit for you. Talking to a certified school or carrier may be your best option to getting your career started for the future.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Preparing for a Carrier Road Evaluation

“People just aren’t prepared! I get drivers who show up and think we will give them a safety vest, hammer, gloves, and other equipment which they should have with them. New candidates seem to think that we will supply that for them, but those are the basics of being prepared for a road test. You are expected to bring that with you on a road test with our company” said the recruiter.

Safety professionals with the company conducting road tests have the right to terminate a road test at any time if they feel safety is compromised on the road. This recruiter tells the story of a driver that was on a road test and began to get road rage while performing the test. He was fine on the highway, but when driving in a city environment his attitude changed. The test was terminated part way through with the trainer driving the truck back to the yard.

A road test is more than just testing driving skills, they are also testing your knowledge when conducting an inspection, and how you interact with customers on the job. They are testing your professionalism, dress when showing up for work, and of course they are testing your driving skills. The most important test which may not be on paper but is part of your test is your ATTITUDE! Your attitude is the most important piece of the puzzle and success when trying to get hired on with carriers. Are you willing to learn, listen, and improve over time.

People show up at the company not realizing that they will see a company representative while filling out an application. “This recruiter says, “We have a process that a team member is called when an applicant arrives at our location. If available we try to meet the person right away to get a feel for them before scheduling an interview. I am always amazed how many drivers weren’t expecting to see anyone when applying.”

If you are looking for a position as a driver in transportation realize you are expected to be able to do certain things and first impressions count. Give yourself a professional makeover before heading out into the landscape of transportation.

Here are some points to go over before
heading out to your next interview.

  • Is your resume in good order, neat and clean?
  • Do you have your own safety equipment?
  • Do you look professional?
  • Are you prepared to conduct a proper pre-trip inspection?
  • Have you researched the company and know the type of operation they have?
  • Do you have the proper documents the recruiter requires?

Go through this checklist before each interview or road test and you will be well on your way to being successful when applying on the job front.

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Experience the Pride of Trucking through Summer Truck Shows

Summer is a great time to get a view of the trucking industry that not everyone may notice on the road in everyday situations. I almost feel as though there are two different versions of truck drivers going on when I attend events in the industry. There are the public’s view of road raged truckers and then there are the dedicated drivers that show off the passion of the industry such as at the outdoor truck shows.

I wander around these shows talking to drivers and thinking about all the things I’ve heard over the years from the public. Comments like, “truck drivers are just holding up traffic” or “truck drivers look sloppy and don’t care as they drive junk equipment up and down the road.” There is such a disconnect between what I know in the industry and what the public believes about the transportation industry and truck drivers in general. If only we can show the public what most of us know in the industry already, the pride of the industry is strong. We just need to show that to the public.

There used to be one or two large shows in the past that drew all the attention and slowly changed from quality truck shows to music concerts. After those shows shut down many smaller shows started up again and now there are many shows across the region focused on the trucks and pride in the industry. These small shows are the perfect place to get people out to see the pride of the industry. Many of the show organizers are focused on the driver and the trucks and what much of the public doesn’t realize is that these shows are often helping out great causes such as special needs athletes or cancer research. They hold raffles, donations, contests, and many other programs to raise money for their favourite charity and truck drivers step up every time. The shows also bring traffic into local towns helping out establishments in the community through sales from the public. I bet much of the public doesn’t know that the trucks and truck drivers they complain about on the road are the same people helping their communities.

When you go to a truck show you see the real pride of the industry. You see drivers that have spent weeks cleaning their trucks to show quality. You see drivers giving their own time and including their families into an industry they love. You see camaraderie from drivers that you don’t see in any truck stop helping each other when needed. You see organizers working with small teams with no other goal than to give back to the industry and causes they love.

I have been attending truck shows for many years and that pride has been consistent throughout. Whether it is old trucks from the past or custom rides from now or the future there is a definite pride in trucking that the industry seems to see, we just need to show everyone else.

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Licence Renewal-Patience and Focus are the Key

As a commercial driver you will be required to be retested for renewal of your licence on a regular basis based on your age and the licence classes you have registered. This is usually accompanied by a medical and if you are not successful in passing the tests required your licence will be downgraded from the commercial class to the basic non-commercial driver’s licence. This can be a stressful time if you haven’t taken the time to prepare properly especially if your licence is required for your job.

I recently had to renew my commercial licence and prepared as I have for the last 35 years even when I was driving. I bought the books, reread each chapter, and prepared mentally for the day. Leave lots of time, clear your head, and be focused is what I would get in my mind each year. Many laugh when I say I buy the books each time when I teach most of the elements in those books but it has been part of my routine for a long time and it is how I prepare each time. The reason is more for terminology than the process. There are many phrases and names used on the tests and in the book that we don’t use in the industry on a regular basis. If you use the slang of the industry all the time you may not understand the terminology on the test. With Mandatory Entry Level Testing being implemented since my last testing I thought they may have added some information about the program so buying the books seemed like a good idea.

I felt comfortable going in to the Drive Test Centre to renew the licence. I had left a whole afternoon for the test so that I wasn’t in a hurry and could take my time without thinking I should be somewhere else. My first thought when going to these testing centres is how long will I be there. You take a ticket and wait and in some centres it may take all afternoon just to get in line for the test.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the centre not overly busy and staff organized. I was called right away to begin the process and the staff was helpful and happy. I completed the required vision test and then was told to enter the testing room and take computer number four. Now this is where things changed for me. I have my tractor trailer licence, my coach licence, and my air brake licence so that is three tests that I have to write. The last time I was in to renew my licences I received a two page paper test for each licence class and didn’t realize they had changed over to computers for the testing.

Computer testing

Using the computers wasn’t a problem, but any unexpected change can throw a person off. The rules are the same as you are allowed a certain number of questions wrong in order to pass as they were in the past. The questions weren’t overly tough but I find you really had to pay attention to what they were asking. The multiple choice questions are designed to throw you off and I did get one wrong because the number I saw was for something else as I didn’t read the question close enough. The questions are delivered randomly and are the same over multiple tests of similar classes. When I thought I was answering questions about the coach I had answered that same question previously in the tractor trailer test. You never really knew which test you were on, but other than that the process was easy enough.

If you are wondering how I did I can tell you I passed all the tests. If I can offer a piece of advice for anyone taking the tests is to have patience and take your time focusing on each question. Once you have selected an answer you can’t go back and correct it. Patience and focus are the key!

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Is the Trucking Industry Shutting Down?

There is a lot of homework that goes into choosing the right carrier to work for as a driver and although we often tell truck drivers to research an environment there is only so much a driver can do. You can look at the carrier’s equipment, talk about their maintenance plan, discuss their operating patterns, and look for good company culture. That won’t always tell you the whole story as many companies aren’t going to give you their financial information to review. So how do you know if the transportation industry is something you should pursue?

Someone brand new looking at the industry may be very confused. Job fairs are increasing with carriers looking for multiple drivers to work in their operations showing that there is lots of freight that needs to be transported. On the other hand there have been many stories of late of carriers going out of business on both sides of the border and of all sizes. Is the trucking industry shutting down?

There are many factors that have gone into the latest trucking operations closing from tariffs to operating areas and other factors. Contracts and shipper relationships are a huge factor in a carrier’s success and can be the difference between staying in business or not. Anyone who has been in business will tell you that business relationships and cash flow can make or break a business. Freightwaves has written an article about the latest trucking closure by Timmerman Starlite Trucking and some of the factors that may have been responsible the closure. You can read the article at http://www.freightwaves.com/news/trucking-apocalypse-continues-california-truckload-carrier-latest-victim-regulations-blamed

Company-closed

I honestly don’t think the trucking industry is shutting down, it is doing what it always does in cleaning itself out much like Mother Nature. The strong survive and the weak die off in wildlife and business is no different. There are many factors that have increased expenses for many carriers such as electronic logging devices, increased driver pay, changing regulations, and increased equipment costs. Businesses that don’t evolve with the changing times will be in trouble in an uncertain business climate such as we have today.

Depending on how long you have been in the industry you may have seen this happen in the past. I remember back in the late eighties we went through a similar process and back then we used to say there will only be five trucking companies in Canada. Many will either be bought out or dissolve. I don’t have a crystal ball so can’t tell you which companies will be around in the future, but I can tell you that the trucking industry is not shutting down. It will continue to change as it has always done and companies will start up and go out of business as they have always done. As a driver it is important to do your homework to the best of your ability and look at companies that have longevity and are improving or evolving with the changing times. A carrier with strong customer relationships in freight markets that are stable will be around in the future if they are operating properly. I believe trucking will never go away, but it will change!

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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