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The Top 10 trucking stories of 2019

Posted: December 18, 2019 by John G. Smith

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau discusses the workings of an ELD, at an event announcing Canada’s plans for a mandate. (CTA photo)

TORONTO, Ont. – It was a year of electric trucks and personal tragedies, of soaring insurance costs and plans to certify electronic logging devices (ELDs). Here is Today’s Trucking’s choice of the Top 10 news stories of 2019.

  1. A ticking clockTransport Canada officially announced that it will mandate electronic logging devices for federally regulated fleets as of June 2021. That’s more than three years after the U.S. first required the equipment. But there is a significant difference coming for Canada. The devices used on this side of the border will need to be certified by a third party, after regulators learned that drivers can easily manipulate some of the U.S.-sourced systems. As 2019 comes to a close, however, we’re still waiting for similar announcements from provinces – and for details about how a certification program will work.
  2. Charges and changes in the wake of Humboldt – Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pled guilty to all the charges against him relating to the April 2018 crash with a Humboldt Broncos bus that killed 16 and injured 13. The changes, however, are not limited to crash-specific sanctions. Jurisdictions across the country have committed to introducing mandatory entry-level training for new truck drivers, which is promised for 2020.

    North America began the year with an unusual surge in deaths connected to waste collection vehicles. It remains one of the deadliest jobs in trucking.

  3. The risky business of waste collection – In the first three weeks of the year, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) had counted 17 fatalities involving North America’s waste collection vehicles. Hang Vo died under the wheels of a reversing garbage truck in Toronto, a 79-year-old woman was struck and killed as a truck emerged from a Montreal alley, and the driver of another garbage truck was hit by a train. It reinforced the fact that this is one of the most dangerous jobs in trucking.

    Alienated Western Canadians literally rolled into Ottawa in a protest convoy. (John G. Smith photo)

  4. Trucks as a protest vehicle – The United We Roll Convoy for Canada wanted to make some noise in its call to support the nation’s energy sector. Trucks were the most visible part of it, as they drove from Alberta to Parliament Hill – announcing their arrival with the blast of air horns. Federal election results later in the year reinforced the fact that western residents feel alienated. Liberals were reduced to a minority government, and were shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

    Ontario aggregate haulers that serve dense urban centers have seen a significant increase in insurance rates, when coverage can be secured at all. (OATA photo)

  5. The hard truth of rising insurance prices – The price of insuring a trucking company is on the rise, when coverage is available at all. Some insurance companies began to step away from trucking industry sectors thought to represent unacceptable risks – such as the aggregate haulers operating in densely populated areas. Some of those haulers even took to the streets in protest.
  6. The fight against cheaters – Industry associations were shining the light on business practices used by less-than-scrupulous truck fleets. A national review by Facility Association – an insurer of last resort for fleets that can’t secure coverage elsewhere – is looking to prevent fleets from misrepresenting their operations when negotiating premiums. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, meanwhile, continues to lobby governments to crack down on the operations that misidentify employed drivers as independent contractors through a process that has become known as Driver Inc. That business practice is largely used to avoid paying source deductions and taxes. A related political action campaign will run through January.
  7. A slowdown in rate increases – Trucking rates surged in 2018 as available truck capacity tightened. But many of the double-digit gains have been walked back in 2019. That said, some gains were still being realized, and current economic conditions appear to be sound on this side of the border.
  8. Truck sales surge – This has been a good year to sell trucks for a living. Most OEMs were projecting between 310,000 and 325,000 Class 8 truck sales in Canada and the U.S. during 2019. But the truck market is expected to soften next year, dipping to between 230,000 and 260,000 units, depending on the company making the prediction. That said, all manufacturers are describing the shift as a return to normal. “Next year, the next several years, will just be a good healthy market and will be back for replacement values,” said Kenworth general manager Kevin Baney. Fellow manufacturing executives working for other brands tended to echo similar thoughts.

    Hyndman Transport was one of the victims of Celadon’s bankruptcy filing. 

  9. Celadon bankruptcy closes Hyndman Transport – Celadon, once one of North America’s leading cross-border fleets, announced on Dec. 9 that it was filing for bankruptcy protection and shuttering operations. In Canada, that meant an end to Hyndman Transport, which Celadon acquired in 2015. Celadon had faced challenges including significant debt and a multi-year investigation into the financial reporting practices of former fleet executives.

    Quebec-based Lion Electric Co. is already known for electric school buses. This year it turned its sights to battery-electric Class 8 and vocational trucks.

  10. Exploring electric (and hydrogen-electric) avenues – Established and emerging manufacturers alike began to roll out prototypes and pre-production models of battery-electric and hydrogen-electric trucks. Quebec’s Lion Electric emerged as a truck OEM in waiting within the market segment. And one of the biggest hydrogen-electric tests in Canada will put fuel cells to the test in a pair of 140,000-lb. B-trains through the Alberta Zero-Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration (AZETEC) project – part of a $15 million initiative sponsored by Emissions Reduction Alberta.

 

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