Mountain Driving Takes Skill and Patience

One of the best things about driving a truck is seeing different places and getting paid for it. Most people wake up each morning in the same room at the same time in the same place, but drivers get to wake up in the best places in the country. Think about it everyday you could wake up with a different view outside of your window. If you have ever woken up to see the majestic mountains in front of you, or a beautiful sunrise off the beach in Florida you will know what I mean. Getting to those beautiful places can be challenge and something that takes skill to achieve.

As a professional driver you will encounter mountain driving along your routes at some point in your career. We often think of mountains only in the western part of the country, but you will find them in the East as well. Mountain driving can be required at any time so being ready and knowledgeable on what to do can save your life. Proper trip planning is imperative to avoid mountain driving when possible and be prepared when that isn’t possible.

When things go wrong, they can go really wrong! In my twenty five years of driving I have seen the odd truck in a runaway ramp. I have seen video footage of trucks using runaway ramps, and I have seen my share of burning brakes. Even on video it can be mesmerizing to see a truck in trouble. A video popped up on my social media channel the other day that caught my attention.

A truck had already been past the point where the brakes were overheating and smoking. A police car with the sirens on were following the truck trying to keep other motorists out the truck’s path. The driver is doing his best to keep the truck from hitting other vehicles and you can see that it is picking up speed at an incredible rate. The brakes continue to smoke and they eventually break into flames. The truck picks up more speed and it gets hard for me to tear myself away from the video even though I know there are only two options available to this driver. He is now going so fast that he moves to the left lane as other motorists are staying to the right due to the police siren. I continue to watch and then it happens, the driver sees the runaway ramp and heads to the right side of the roadway. At this point the dirt and debris fill the screen as the truck is engulfed and sinks in the ramp’s gravel and sand. The load and truck are scattered as the truck breaks apart. At this point all I can do is look for the driver and hope he is all right. We see an arm, a head, and then eventually he frees himself and it looks like he is in good health.

The general rule is that you stay in the same gear as you used to climb the mountain to descend the mountain. That is fine on smaller hills but hard to do on long mountain grades. Patience comes into play here and many drivers don’t remain in the same gear. This is especially true for those that are not used to mountain driving. Proper training is the first step and being a student for your whole career will help you to learn improved techniques for driving. Get proper training up front and get advice from more experienced drivers if your trip takes you through mountains to your destination. TTSAO certified training is a good place to start.

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

Is random drug testing coming to Canada?

The topic of drugs have been top of mind for a few years now in both Canada and the United States. It started a few years back with marijuana being the drug of choice for many with chronic pain. Since then it has been a hot topic for Government agencies on legalization which in turn has led to business startups in locations across the U.S. The topic has mostly stayed south of our borders with certain States legalizing marijuana and drug testing in transportation being required for those going to the United States, however the drug landscape is changing and fast!

Drivers that weren’t heading towards the United States generally didn’t have to worry about being tested here in Canada. You may have had to be tested when being hired as a pre-employment drug test but that was about it. With the potential legalization of marijuana coming to Canada in the near future there is more opportunity for access to drugs therefore more opportunity for additional consumption.

Drivers have always been subject to random drug tests when working for carriers that haul to the United States. Whether that driver actually crosses the border does not matter. Once a carrier is deemed international in services, twenty-five percent of the workforce in safety sensitive positions are eligible for drug testing each year. A driver has the opportunity to be tested up to four times per year if their name comes up in the random pool of names drawn each month.

The rules for Canadian drivers may be changing. Companies that don’t travel to the United States have generally been kept out of the loop of drug testing regulations. Other than the pre-hire testing many drivers go through they have been exempt from testing other than in company policy of an incident. That may be changing with a recent change to Toronto’s largest transit company.

Recently the Toronto Transit Commission won an injunction to start testing their employees involved in safety sensitive positions. The TTC has been scoured with incidents related to drugs and alcohol and decided to implement a random program to all employees in safety positions. On day one of the program two employees were deemed “under the influence” while on the job and have been suspended. So what does this mean for the rest of us in transportation?

With the TTC being one of the largest transit providers in the largest Province in Canada can change the landscape for drivers that only work in Canada. Generally Canadian only drivers have been exempt from testing but the TTC program is showing there is a need for drivers that don’t leave the Province. As marijuana becomes more accessible in Canada through legalization the transportation industry is currently working towards finding a way to protect workers and the public at large. If the TTC wins their current battle with their Union this may open doors to other transportation based companies to allow random testing on their drivers.

Being a professional truck driver adds extra scrutiny among the public as the size and weight of the vehicles can cause increased damage and loss of life. Ensuring those behind the wheel are drug and alcohol free is important to all of us on the road. There have been a number of incidents over the last couple of years with drivers in Canada only and when unionized companies like TTC have the opportunity to test their members means it will soon be coming to the rest of the transportation sector. We all need to do our part to curve this growing problem and the first step to opening up doors as a new driver in today’s transportation environment is to remain drug and alcohol free.

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

Should you be worried about mergers and acquisitions as a driver?

You’re driving for a carrier and you start to hear rumblings that they may be entering into the stage of a buyout or even worse bankruptcy proceedings. What do you do? Do you panic and quit on the spot? Do you turn a blind eye and keep going as if nothing is going on? Do you approach the company and ask for an explanation? Do you look for information from your colleagues? The truth is that any of these suggestions may or may not give you the correct information and will be impossible to predict anyway.

Many of us have been through these types of changes before. Much of the time it doesn’t affect employees at a certain level so there is no need to panic if you are in a position such as a driver if that is the main service of the company. Depending on the structure of the companies involved in the transaction those in management or office roles will see the most changes as there will be duplicate roles that may require streamlining. So how do you know what to do?

Of course you will need to look at each situation on its own because they are different, but here are some signs that may help you.

Your company has been purchased by another company, don’t panic!

If you are working for a carrier and they have been bought out by another do not panic. Companies buy each other all the time and is a way of acquiring market share. This allows them bid on larger contracts and attain additional services that they may not currently provide. I worked for a carrier that was bought out three times in the thirteen year period that I worked for them. The name changed and top management changed, but the services remained the same. The only company that won there was the graphic company in my mind.

Your company announces it is restructuring but everything seems to be running as normal, keep a close eye on the situation!

Companies often restructure so if things are running without service interruptions or issues with payroll then you may not be affected. I wouldn’t panic but I would keep a close eye on things. The company may just be adjusting services and nothing will change. If you see services drop, a decline in contracts, or a major change in equipment then it may indicate problems.

Your company can’t pay their bills and service is interrupted, panic!

If you start to notice that your company is having trouble with cash flow then you may want to begin looking at other options. Early in my career I didn’t pay attention to the signs when the small carrier I was driving for was going bankrupt. Our services were all on a cash basis and the workload was getting slower. The company ended up going bankrupt and my last two paycheques bounced. I didn’t pay enough attention to the signs.

If your employer is going through one of the situations above then pay attention, but don’t panic. If you are a driver then you are probably okay. Where drivers have problems is when they have a bad safety record or their performance is impacting the bottom line of the company due to poor performance. The new company may be decide to do some cleaning. These situations all are very hard to predict and can change at the last minute in negotiations. Panicking often just fuels the fire and causes people to make the wrong decisions. The best way to insulate yourself from issues out of your control is to be as professional as possible. Employers need good employees. Be a safe reliable employee with good performance and most companies will want you around. Keep your resume up to date should you have to move in a hurry. The only thing in life that is for sure is change so always keep your eyes open for opportunity. Good luck!

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

It’s a truck, it won’t float!

Our perception to what is heavy and what is not can be very problematic to a driver if you don’t respect the equipment you are driving. Our minds tell us that something is heavy because we know we can’t lift the object as we know it. That is why when you see someone pull a truck with their body or lift a car off of someone saving their life we see it as superhuman. It’s because we see that vehicle as impossible to lift due to size and weight. If we were Superman we would see a car as an object that could be thrown around like a ball because of his superhuman strength.

This perception of the weight of the vehicle can fool many new drivers when they start their careers. Vehicles fool the drivers in a few ways. One way is when an incident occurs the truck usually does much more damage than the driver thought it would due to the weight of the vehicle. Even an incident with little speed involved can cause great damage when an incident occurs. What may have been a small fender bender with a car can turn very different when a truck is involved.

Another issue with perception is the size of the vehicle. Trucks are large vehicles and just walking around them can be intimidating. Without a load on however a truck is not that heavy. If I tell you an empty truck is 35,000 pounds you would say that’s heavy. The truth is we haven’t even put a load on it at that weight and if you are driving a truck that is empty you will see the difference between a loaded and empty truck. This causes big problems in heavy wind situations and many trucks have been blown over in the wind if the driver does not have the experience or follow the warnings on bridges and other passages. This also offers problems with soft shoulders on highways and other issues where our minds fool us with the weight of the vehicle.

The height of a vehicle can also be problematic for drivers not understanding how they can be a challenge in today’s environment. When we talk about height of vehicles often trailer height and low bridges are what comes to mind. That is one area that has always been a challenge with many low bridges dotted throughout the landscape of North America. But trailer height isn’t our only worry. The height of the vehicle from the ground can cause problems for many drivers especially this time of year with high water levels. How many times have you seen drivers driving through rivers, flooded streets and more on social media channels. Drivers see that and feel that they too can do the same thing, but vehicle dynamics, weight of the vehicle, and placement of components all play a part in the driver’s success. Of course we can also watch vehicles on social media that have floated down a river with the force of a river current out of control.

The best way to avoid many of these problems in a truck is to respect the vehicle and use it for what it was meant to be used for. Trucks were never meant to be used to drive through rivers or drive over bridges in windy conditions. If you are a new driver or even an experienced driver vehicle respect should be a primary concern. Know your vehicle and how it responds, respect your environment, and pay attention to seasonal and environmental changes on your route. Attention to these issues will make you a successful and safe driver.

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

If you’re looking for a career path? A trip in a truck may show you the path.

I am speaking at an event for youth to talk about career paths and where the possibilities can lead them in their careers. I will be one of six keynote speakers that will talk about their careers and how we got to where we are today. I am pretty confident that there will not be many in the room that have trucking as part of their career path. Among the other speakers is a police officer, printer, landscape entrepreneur, and myself.

If you look at the career path of the other presenters those careers are normally long term careers that can be accomplished and started in your younger years in college. You can come out of school, go to police college, and onto the force. You can start a landscape business in college and develop it to a good business over time. I am not taking anything away from the accomplishments of any of these people, but most of those careers have a clear career path.

With trucking things are different. This is outlined through my story with trucking and many of my industry friends that started as truck drivers and now are in other positions outside of driving. Some are consultants, have industry publications, some are in management, and others have become owners of trucking companies. All of those careers started with the truck and a person sitting behind the wheel. Many of us didn’t know we would end up where we have in our careers and a big thank you to trucking for opening up options in our career. This sentiment was also echoed at the recent TTSAO conference where many of the panelists talked about their career paths and the scenic road that got them to eventual success.

At this point you are probably asking yourself what the point is of this article. If you are looking at career options and haven’t seriously thought about a career in trucking and where the industry can take you you may want to give it some serious thought. If you can’t see that far ahead then taking a trip behind the wheel may fuel some passion and allow you to see the opportunities.

Here is a story about a driver that is now in another position. He started driving for a respectable carrier that had opportunities with various types of freight. He did well as a driver and decided to become a business owner buying his own truck. He did well as an owner operator and because of his professionalism was offered a position as part of the recruiting team which is the position he still holds to this day.

Transportation is one of the largest industries in North America and is not going away any time soon. It may be changing with much of that change coming from technology but it will still be around for the long term. Take an opportunity that you may not have thought about and try trucking. It may surprise you!

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

Should you attend a truck show in Quebec even though you are from Ontario?

ExpoCam 2017 launches tomorrow in Montreal, Quebec. ExpoCam is the sister show to Truck World which happens in Toronto every other year and was here last year. The two shows alternate years from Montreal to Toronto and are generally the largest shows of the year. The flavour of each show ranges from days that are very corporate in nature to a family event on the Saturdays. So should you attend?

If you are interested in truck shows then you should attend. Many however feel that because the show is in Quebec that it is not something that is worth attending if you are from Ontario. Oh sure there will be a few language barriers, but most people speak English as well so that shouldn’t be an issue. Many drivers think carriers in Quebec are not looking for drivers from Ontario, not necessarily true. So should you attend?

The truth is that you may be missing some major opportunities by not attending the show. If you are a new driver this is an important show to attend. In order to know this you have to take a look at how the two Provinces work together and the landscape of the trucking industry in Canada.

Let’s take a look at the carriers themselves. If you look at many of the larger carriers like CAT, SGT, Bison, Challenger and many others they all have locations in Ontario and Quebec among other Provinces. You will also find other carriers that may not have locations in Ontario but operate throughout Ontario and that may give you opportunities that you may not come across in Ontario truck shows. From a carrier standpoint it is is a good idea to visit the show for job opportunities.

If we look at the logistics landscape we find more reasons to attend the show. Toronto to Montreal is a major freight corridor not only between the Provinces, but through to the United States as well. Many carriers have freight that operates throughout the two Provinces in a regional type of operation. I have had many friends over the years that have operated Toronto to Montreal as part of their normal operation with dedicated freight.

If you are in the job market as a driver and have the time and access to visit the show then it would be worth the trip. You will see many vendors and carriers from Ontario which will offer you increased networking opportunities. Many say that the Montreal show has a different flavour than the Toronto show and the plus is that it is in Montreal. Montreal is a beautiful city and has great amenities and attractions for those attending the show. So get your friends together, jump in the car and head off to the show. The show starts on April 20th at Bonaventure Place in Montreal. You can learn all the details on the ExpoCam website at http://www.expocam.ca/# . Get your resume up to speed, plan the show, and have some fun. Enjoy!

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

Being Prepared is the Secret to Getting Hired with Carriers

It was spelled out at a recent seminar on getting hired for the trucking industry of BE PREPARED! This recent seminar for new drivers on how to get a job in the industry was focused on what is required to get hired on with the top carriers in the country. The message that came from industry expert Guy Broderick was be prepared and professional.

Guy outlined what he looks for as a top recruiter in the industry when interviewing new applicants for the job. “People show up in dirty clothing, inappropriate shoes, and a lack of requirements like safety vests, gloves, a hammer, and safety boots and expect to do a proper road test. Applicants need to be prepared to do a proper road test and not assume that we have all of that equipment waiting for them, show me you’re prepared.”

On the road test itself Guy mentioned that you can tell the difference when someone has certified training and understands how to do a pre-trip inspection properly and those that don’t. He has had people looking for items like brake fluid on a tractor trailer where it doesn’t even exist. How you perform on a road test shows trainer the mannerisms and mental attitude on the road. Many of the top carriers are becoming very choosy of the type of candidates being chosen for their fleet. Part of that is about safety, but there is also an image factor.

First impressions count and it starts with your resume. Completing your resume properly and paying attention to details such as how you present it to the recruiter are very important. Dressing as if you may get interviewed on the spot is also suggested. “I see so many people come in to fill out an application and are surprised when a member of management comes out of the office to talk with them on the spot”, said Guy. Be prepared from the start.

Highlights of the seminar were be prepared and present yourself with professionalism. Know what you are talking about and know some background information about the company. Be prepared for the road test by bringing your own safety equipment and put your best foot forward.

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

Memorizing is not doing!

One of the largest problems still in the industry is the pre-trip inspection process. Carriers complain about it, regulatory officials complain about it, and students complain about it. Go to any carrier and many of the violations on their books have to do with maintenance violations that should have been checked during an inspection.

I recently conducted an interview on my radio show of an ex-MTO inspector on how to get through the scales with clean inspections. We began to talk about the issues they were facing when he started as an inspection officer over twenty years ago. It was eye opening to see that we still face those same issues today. At that time wheels separating from vehicles was the hot topic and twenty years later wheels separating from vehicles is still the hot issue. For the most part wheels separating from vehicles should have been noticed in the inspection process.

I conducted some safety training for a client not to long ago on the inspection process. The fleet has long term drivers with fairly new equipment. All the drivers had over ten years experience and when they did the inspections they too were falling into the trap of just saying components and not really inspecting them. In other words they knew what they are suppose to check, but stopped checking.

There are two reasons for this and both come to the same conclusion. For new students the issue may be lack of knowledge and testing process. For older drivers it normally boils down to complacency. Anyone over ten years of experience will fall into the complacency trap. They know the process, but have stopped doing it. That’s the reason the issues that should have been solved twenty years ago are still at the forefront of the industry today. So what can be done?

If you are a new student take your training seriously. Don’t just memorize the process of doing an inspection or driving the truck, learn it!. Know why you are doing something and develop a system for yourself to complete the process properly.

If you are an older driver returning to the industry or are finding that you are becoming complacent with your process then get back the basics. Start doing the process of an inspection everyday and make it a goal to do inspections as thoroughly as possible. This way when on the road you will feel confident when going into an inspection station that you have done everything possible to be safe on the roadway.

This is an industry of continual learning and the biggest problem we have is complacency. There is a lot for a driver to do everyday keeping their trucks in good order and meeting the demands of the road. If you let complacency set in that is when you will find problems that you didn’t see coming. Learn, practice and try to improve everyday and you will be a top driver in the industry.

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

Enhance Your Career with Additional Training

I recently conducted an interview with a friend of mine who is in the truck training space. We were discussing training programs and got onto the the topic of course selection for new students. He offers some specialized courses that others don’t in the way of truck mechanic courses. I was intrigued by this because there aren’t many schools offering this type of course and it is very valuable to have as a driver. In addition to the mechanics course the heavy equipment course is also something that many drivers should think about when looking at training, here’s why?
As a driver you are alone on the road. You’re dealing with mechanical equipment, inspections, and other required components that can break down at anytime. Having the knowledge to know what you are looking for when dealing with mechanical equipment is important on the road. I certainly am no mechanic but glad I have some of that knowledge while I was on the road. As a driver you will be forced to make decisions on the road about repairs and problems with your truck. There are many little repairs that could be handled on the road if a driver knew what they were looking for. Just the inspection process alone will be more thorough and efficient with someone that knows the components and how they work.

As for the heavy equipment training if you are working for a company that has that type of equipment then it will be a requirement. From a safety standpoint you would hate to run over someone unloading a machine that you are not certified to operate. New students often do not understand that to load a piece of equipment on a float trailer requires the certification for the equipment. With regulations on construction tightening these days just knowing how to operate equipment without the certification are long gone.

Here is the real reason you may want to look into additional training, the job! Isn’t this the reason that you are looking into training in the first place? To get the job? That additional training can set you ahead of the competition. This is especially important in rural areas where companies may have varied work projects and need people who can do more than just drive, but also help with maintenance items, operate other machinery, and work on various projects.

Our industry is changing at a high rate of speed. Carriers and construction businesses are looking at people that can give them the best advantage in a very competitive industry. Getting training in all areas of the industry will certainly benefit any candidate in today’s trucking industry.

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, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. 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

Gordon Foods Hosts March 2017 TTSAO Meeting

A big thank you to Gordon Foods Services for hosting the March 2017 TTSAO meeting. Attendees were shown an excellent time with gfs-logoa tour of the facility, food, refreshments, and  raffle prizes.

In addition the company also announced a special offer for Full Membered Schools in the TTSAO family. Look for more information in your minutes to follow.  Here are some pictures from the event.

Thank you Gordon Foods Services for a great meeting.  You can learn more about Gordon Foods Services at www.gfs.com

About the TTSAO

The TTSAO envisions that through the co-operation and joint efforts of all schools involved and the industry itself, specific standards and educational programs can be set for drivers that will not only prove more realistic but much more effective than those currently being put into place by various government agencies.

“Striving For Success In Training”

For more information on the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario please email ttsao@ttsao.com or call 1-866-475-9436

Striving for Success in Training

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