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Ontario Truck Drivers to Face Zero Tolerance Approach to Pot

Commercial vehicle drivers in Ontario must have no blood drug content when operating their vehicles, according to changes to the province’s Highway Traffic Act.

Changes to the Act address the issues of impaired driving, distracted driving and vulnerable road user safety, and are effective July 1, 2018.

Starting July 1, 2018, drivers of commercial vehicles must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of zero – which is measured at 0.02 – and equivalent blood drug content (BDC) as detected by an oral fluid screening device when driving a commercial vehicle. If a commercial driver has alcohol in their system (above 0.02 BAC), they will face serious penalties, including licence suspensions and administrative monetary penalties.

With the federal government’s intentions to legalize cannabis, zero tolerance drug sanctions will also be effective starting July 1, 2018. However, the zero tolerance drug sanctions will not be enforced until the Federal Minister of Justice approves and authorizes the use of an approved drug screening equipment, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) points out.

Medial cannabis users may be exempted from zero tolerance sanctions if a police officer is satisfied they are legally authorized to use drugs for medical purposes. However, these drivers can still face penalties or criminal charges if a police officer determines their ability to drive has been impaired.

The OTA said it will request the incoming Minister of Transportation revisit the exemptions to the zero tolerance policy for those prescribed medical marijuana.

“OTA does not believe there should be any exemptions for cannabis containing THC (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) regardless of whether it’s for medical or recreational use,” the association said in a release.

More details can be found here.

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Here Comes the (Value of the) Sun

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) is showing confidence in the sun as a practical power source for trucks and trailers.

“Fleets should seriously consider investing in solar systems,” the council said this week in the launch of its Solar Confidence Report, the latest in a series of studies that explore fuel-saving technologies and practices.

“The application of solar panels on trailers with extra electrical loads like telematics, refrigeration units, and liftgates make sense as a means of improving battery life and reducing the need for roadside assistance. This is especially true if the trailer spends long periods without being attached to a tractor. And the opportunity to extend the run time of battery HVAC systems makes installing solar for battery HVAC support a good solution,” it said.

Today’s solar panels are flexible, thin, easily installed, and reliable, the report found. Although, potential fuel savings were seen to be “a very small part” of the overall benefit.

The panel installations should be sized for their intended application, NACFE stresses. “For example, the size of a solar panel to support a battery HVAC system on a tractor might be limited by the area available on the tractor fairing, whereas a solar panel to support a refrigeration unit only needs to be large enough to provide a small trickle charge to the refrigeration unit starting battery.”

Still, it’s not yet known if the paybacks will match claims by manufacturers.

“We have verified that the benefits fall in several categories with the biggest benefits being from extending battery life and avoiding emergency roadside assistance for dead batteries. Many fleet users are happy with the investment they made and intend to continue to use solar panels in the future,” the council concludes.

The report comes with a payback calculator to help to evaluate whether a system makes sense.

For more on the use of solar power in Canada’s trucking environment, view the full article here.

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Cybersecurity Major Concern as Trucking Automation Advances

Various trucking and freight transport groups urged U.S. regulators to prioritize cybersecurity as manufacturers and suppliers continue rolling out more automated and autonomous driving systems

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently closed a public comment period focusing on regulations to facilitate the safe introduction of automated driving systems in commercial vehicles, reports Fleet Owner.

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) called on these new vehicle systems to “undergo annual cyber security evaluations before being placed on public roads.” Tests should include design reviews, penetration tests, and other assessments, NMFTA wrote.

Likewise, the American Truck Dealers (ATD) said it supports requiring automated systems be “continuously and periodically inspected for proper software and hardware component operation and to verify that they utilize the most current software updates.”

MITRE Corp., which works with the government to tackle a variety of threats, said the system complexity with ADS technology has “greatly increased” in ways not previously seen.

“This increased complexity in ADS is a benefit to would-be attackers, given the potential of sending misleading data to (i.e. spoofing) sensors, anticipating and exploiting predictable automated responses of ADS software algorithms, and from discovering and maliciously exploiting new system flaws in the implementation, configuration, and algorithms of the software,” MITRE wrote.

The Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) expressed concern that ADS is subject to system crashes and performance glitches that can affect the vehicle while it is in motion.

“The only effective safeguard against these flaws is requiring the presence of human supervision by an operator in the cab and ensuring commercial motor vehicle equipment is designed to allow that operator to override all electronic systems and assume control of the vehicle in the event of malfunction or hacking event,” CVTA said.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) said fleets and service providers should train employees for “assuring cybersecurity in company systems and equipment, and what they should do in the event of a known or suspected cybersecurity breach.

It also said self-diagnostic systems should be sufficient to identify deficiencies or the presence of viruses.

Read the full Canadian Trucking Alliance article here.

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Connected Trucks Vulnerable to Cyber Threats

Connected Trucks Vulnerable to Cyber Threats

Modern electronics systems in class 8 trucks can open a virtual door to cyber criminals.

A recent Today’s Trucking article details how several testing projects at universities have already demonstrated how hackers – with little difficulty – can take over a truck’s electronics, seize controls, and mine for sensitive company data in the ECM by hard-wire connecting into the vehicle’s OBD port.

As trucks become even more connected going forward, experts believe they’ll be even more vulnerable to wireless security breaches and intervention.

From Today’s Trucking:

“What concerns me, as a fleet equipment manager, is increased opportunity for cyber attacks because of the inter-connectivity of our vehicles and all of the components now,” said Gary Hunt, vice-president of equipment and maintenance at ABF Freight System. “When you talk about how these different components are going to talk to the truck, across the J-1939, through our telematics system, to us, those are all opportunities that somebody else can talk to those components and get into the truck. That’s a real concern for me.”

Hunt was speaking at the at the inaugural meeting of a new Taskforce on Cybersecurity at the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance council’s annual meeting.

A large part of the potential threat comes from the J-1939 data bus. It’s an open standard and provides a great deal of efficiency to the industry, but its open design makes it vulnerable.

“We worked, as an industry, to develop that open architecture, so that we could have this great flexibility, as fleets, as OEMs, to work collaboratively. Is J-1931 now going to be our Achilles heel?” asked Hunt.

The open-architecture CANBUS is just one of the challenges. To really look at the whole attack surface, we need to look all the way up and down the supply chain, noted Keith Doorenbos, a system engineer with Paccar who attended the taskforce session.

Theoretical models have been developed that suggest even diagnostic tools could be used to move a virus-like attack from one truck to the next, but so far, Doorenbos says that’s entirely theoretical. “I don’t believe it’s even been demonstrated by any of our white hats [hackers working for good], but there’s a lot of exposures in different elements. Basically everything that’s ‘smart’ out there creates another opening.”

Doorenbos says trucking hasn’t yet had a lot of exposure to what he called the classic cyber criminals who are after access to traditional servers for data-mining, identity theft, and financial theft.

More likely, Doorenbos believes, the biggest threat lays in the for-profit sector: cargo theft.

“Right now that’s pretty much done using old-school methods,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is prevent giving them new techniques that might make that simpler, more efficient or more accessible.”

There’s a huge amount of work in the background to better understand the scale of the problem, and a few solutions are emerging.

A key pillar of cybersecurity efforts is encrypting data and software so it can’t easily be reverse-engineered or accessed by outsiders. Another strategy is partitioning truck electronic architectures so that, rather than having a single-vehicle network on J-1939, there are a number of sub-networks separating the most critical systems from the less critical systems. Engineers are also inserting firewalls or gateways between the different networks so they can control the data and commands that can move from one network to another.

“Even if somebody can compromise your telematics system that does not automatically give them immediately the ability to send commands directly to an engine or a brake,” says Doorenbos.

Read the full article at Today’s Trucking here.

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Connected Vehicles and the Potential of Blockchain

Connected Vehicles and the Potential of Blockchain

If you think the transportation industry is connected today, just wait. We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what connectivity can do for our industry, and the arrival of blockchain will take it to a whole new level.

But even before that happens, the vehicles we operate will continue to become more connected. I was in Duisburg, Germany, in early February for the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which officials claim was designed to be a constantly connected “node in the Internet of Things.”

Mercedes is the first OEM to use what3words for navigation. This technology uses a grid of 57 trillion 3×3-meter squares, and assigns each of them a three-word identification tag. Using this technology, a vehicle can be directed precisely where it needs to go, even if it’s a specific door at a loading dock or a utility tower that’s in the middle of a field.

It’s a good example of how even technologies such as GPS, which we’ve come to take for granted and utilize in our business every day, are being refined and improved upon.

Now we’re hearing more about blockchain technology, which we cover in this month’s issue of Truck News. Like many, I was at first dismissive, thinking of it as a technology useful solely in the cryptocurrency world, and I rejected the idea that freight transactions would ever be carried out using Bitcoin.

However, it’s clear now that Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology does have many real-world uses in the transportation industry, especially as newer generation vehicles like the new Sprinter are being designed specifically to communicate with the world around them.

What excites me the most about blockchain is the ability to conduct transactions using “smart contracts.” These can address many of the pain points felt by trucking providers today. Take, for example, cash flow. A smart contract can execute payment the moment a load is delivered. Sensors on the truck or an in-cab app can confirm delivery of the load and the payment can be made instantaneously. Say goodbye to 90-day payment terms and the reliance by small businesses on invoice factoring to sustain cash flow.

Or, how about the collection of accessorial charges? A smart contract can be written which, again using sensors on the truck, records when the vehicle arrived at a facility to be loaded or unloaded, and when it left the yard. If the unit was detained for more than two hours, for example, the agreed upon detention charge would automatically be applied to the payment. No more arguing with shippers and receivers about how long the equipment was held up for at their facility and fighting for the payment of detention charges.

Another potential application in trucking, described to me by Craig Fuller, managing director of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, is the creation of a universal driver ID, that would give members of a blockchain visibility of the driver who is handling their load. Today the driver, who has the single biggest influence on how that load is handled and delivered, is mostly anonymous to the shipper, operating under the flag of the carrier he or she works for.

While some privacy concerns will no doubt need to be accommodated, I see an opportunity for drivers operating under a universal driver ID to differentiate themselves, effectively creating their own brand and perhaps even commanding a premium based on a proven track record of safety, reliability, and customer service excellence.

If you think about how the Internet and connectivity have changed the business of trucking in the last decade or two, I believe we will see a change of equal or greater magnitude with the arrival of blockchain and the next generation of connected vehicles.

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What to do After an Accident

What to do After an Accident

In a previous blog, I laid out recommended steps you need to take to prevent accidents from happening. While we’d all prefer never to see a workplace accident, the truth of the matter is even when we have safety procedures in place, accidents do happen.

Swift action following an accident can help mitigate damage as well as preventing similar accidents from happening in the future.

Of course the first thing to do following an accident is to make sure your injured employee gets the best available medical treatment as soon as possible. You always must deal with the most pressing issues first when it comes to accidents and the well-being of your employees and others involved in the accident should be priority Number One.

The next step is to involve your insurance company. Do this as soon as possible because there may be time-related policies and procedures you need to follow. It is important that you familiarize yourself with them so that you don’t do anything that may lead the insurance company to deny paying the claim.

Investigate the accident to determine the root cause. Work closely with any law enforcement or insurance professionals to find out what caused the accident to occur. Once that is done, take some time to look at trends or patterns. If you notice that certain types of accidents seem to be recurring, take the necessary corrective action to prevent a similar accident from happening in the future. This may involve additional training for employees or changing the way certain tasks are performed.

Your responsibility to an injured employee does not end when you help them get the medical treatment they need. Support and maintain regular communication with the injured employee so they feel they are still part of the team and understand that you care about their recovery and want and need them back at work.

Where possible provide and support transitional and/or modified duty to help the employee return to work and get back to full duty as soon as possible.

Conduct regular safety audits of your facility to identify problem areas and then take steps to fix any issues that are identified. Hold periodic safety meetings with your staff during which you reinforce your company’s commitment to safety and go over key safety policies.

If you don’t already have a safety committee, following an accident is a good time to start one. The safety committee should be a cross-functional team that looks at every aspect of your business and helps determine best safety practices. Think about rewarding employees for things like safe driving records or accident-free months in the shop, etc. Safety has to be part of the fabric of the company’s culture, and it starts from the top down.


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Outsourcing: It’s Not All or Nothing

Outsourcing: It’s Not All or NothingWhen it comes to outsourcing, some people think it’s an all or nothing decision: Either you outsource all of your repair and maintenance or you do it all in-house.

The reality is that in today’s market there are a variety of options when it comes to outsourcing. Fleets can pick and choose what it is they need and not pay for more than that. You can choose your outsourcing arrangement based on your core competencies, keeping things in-house where you have the skills, technicians and tooling to complete the job.

Let’s look at the various options available to a company.

  • Dedicated contract carriage: At one end of the spectrum, dedicated contract carriage is a choice some companies make as a way to get their goods to market. They want to outsource everything, not just trucks, but also drivers, routing, supply chain design and engineering. Dedicated contract carriage is a complete outsourcing of the transportation function, leaving the company to concentrate on its revenue-generating business.
  • Full-service leasing: With full-service leasing, the company keeps drivers on its payroll but outsources the assets (a.k.a. the trucks). This includes outsourcing all the maintenance and all the emergency roadside service for those vehicles.
  • Guaranteed Maintenance Agreement: In this scenario, the fleet procures the trucks but wants an outside service provider to handle the maintenance of those assets. Here maintenance is completed at a guaranteed rate.
  • Variable Maintenance Agreement: In a variable maintenance agreement, costs are pegged at a certain amount and if the actual maintenance exceeds the amount, the fleet gets billed for the difference. If the cost is less than the pegged amount, the fleet would get a refund or credit.
  • PM Service Agreement: This type of plan is well suited for older trucks or ones that are domiciled in one place. Included in the price is the cost of preventive maintenance services, which are scheduled events. Breakdowns or unscheduled repairs are handled on a cost-plus basis. In other words, the fleet pays as it goes.
  • Managed Maintenance Services: In this case, the fleet pays a small fee to be a member and then the service provider gives the fleet a preferred rate on labor and parts when repair or maintenance is needed at any of its facilities. The fleet only pays for what it uses and does so at a preferred rate.

These outsourcing options strike a balance between control and risk. For example, with dedicated contract carriage you give up all control but also have little to no risk. Moving down the list of options you gain more control but also take on more risk. Where you fall on the control and risk continuums will help you figure out which outsourcing option is right for your operation.


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Safe Driving Tips for the School Year and Holiday Season

Safe Driving Tips for the School Year and Holiday Season

It’s always important to drive safely, but with school back in session and the holidays just around the corner promising increased traffic, safe driving becomes even more critical.

Whether driving in the city, suburb or country, extra caution is needed when sharing the road with school buses.

Here are some tips for sharing the road safely:

  • When to stop — It’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus on an undivided highway. You must stop when the school bus has its red lights on and its stop arm is extended.
  • When to slow down — You must slow down when the school bus has its yellow lights on. It’s also a good idea to slow down whenever you see a school bus.
  • Watch for children — Be especially vigilant in school zones, crosswalks and at bus stops. Children don’t always use crosswalks and may dart out into the street without looking.
  • Limit distractions — Eating, fidgeting with the radio, talking on your cell phone all take your attention away from driving.
  • Safety zones — Leave a minimum 10-foot safety zone for children in front of, behind and on either side of a school bus.

Driving in traffic requires extra attention and concentration as you are dealing with busy and sometimes narrow streets, preoccupied pedestrians and impaired visibility. You must stay alert, watch your speed and make turns carefully.

Here are some tips that will help with driving during these busy times and beyond:

  • Keep your eyes moving — Don’t focus on one object, but rather look from one side of the road to the other. Try to scan a block or two ahead as well.
  • Check your mirrors — Know what is behind you and on the sides of your vehicle.
  • Watch taillights — Taillights allows you to track what is happening in front of you and give you some advanced warning when you need to stop.
  • Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists — Be aware that pedestrians may dart out into traffic at any moment. Also, watch out for bicyclists that may pull up next to you in your blind spot.
  • Watch for driveways, alleyways, parking lot access — Vehicles may come out of these places suddenly and won’t be visible until the last moment.
  • Stay on specified routes — Follow assigned routes and don’t veer off from familiar roads.

In addition to these safe-driving practices, make sure your vehicle is well maintained so it will stop when it needs to.

Safe driving practices are always important but they become critical when during the school year, during holidays and at other times of increased traffic.


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The Top Five Benefits of Premium Diesel

The Top Five Benefits of Premium Diesel

Whether your fleet operation is big or small, there are many important decisions to make for your business and operation.

Which fuel to use may not always be top of mind, but switching to a premium diesel can increase overall efficiency and equipment longevity.

Below are the top five benefits to using a premium diesel.

1. A higher cetane number.

Cetane measures a fuel’s ignition delay — or how quickly the air and fuel mixture combusts in your engine. Higher cetane means a shorter delay and better ignition quality, which in turn leads to faster start-ups, reduced wear on your batteries and starter along with less pollution.

2. Better lubricity.

Lubrication in an engine helps reduce overall friction. Diesel lubricants, specifically, reduce the friction and wear of the fuel pump and injection components. These engine parts are under intense pressure, so more lubrication leads to less downtime and fewer costly repairs.

3. More effective detergents.

Detergents do exactly what they sound like: keep your fuel and engine components clean. Detergents in your diesel reduce buildup on the fuel injectors. Clean parts mean less overall downtime and fewer repairs, so you can keep your fleet on the road or your equipment in the field.

4. A well-rounded additives package.

Premium diesel comes packed with additives that produce a variety of benefits. These additives include demulsifiers to keep water out of the fuel, corrosion inhibitors that extend the life of injection pumps, and stabilizers that prevent the formation of gum or sludge during storage. All these together extend the life of both the fuel and the engine.

5. Cleaner and more efficient engine components.

Your engine is cleaner and runs more efficiently when all of these are working together. Premium diesel delivers more power and better fuel economy than a regular No. 2 diesel blend. In fact, tests have shown a 4.5% increase in power compared to a typical diesel fuel.


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Safety Matters: Overview of Warehousing Hazards

Working in a warehouse is dangerous because of the wide variety of hazards present. The possibility of injury is all around. In any given day, employees may work with heavy boxes, powered industrial trucks, docks, conveyor belts and/or hazardous materials. According to the some studies, about 46 per cent of injuries that occur in the warehouse are strains and sprains. The most commonly injured body part is the back, followed by the lower half of the body, which includes legs, knees, feet and toes. Most importantly, employees overwhelmingly report overexertion as the top exposure causing on-the-job injury.

What do all these numbers and statistics mean to employees? They show that injuries occurring in warehouses across the country are common, but they are also preventable. Use the following information to prevent workplace hazards so employees can stay safe and healthy on the job.

Help with Housekeeping

One of the most important things employees can do to support workplace safety is to keep the warehouse tidy and organized, and encourage co-workers and management to do the same. Housekeeping is a team effort. Everyone must address problems right away. Slips and trips because of cluttered, wet or icy floors are common and can cause serious injury.

Loading Dock Safety

Though loading dock injuries are not as common as some others are, statistics show they have the highest rate of fatality or devastating injury. Ramps and inclines, overhead obstructions, dissimilar surfaces, slippery conditions, poor lighting, vehicular traffic, pedestrian traffic, restricted views, sheer drops, trailer creep, congested areas and debris accumulation are all common hazards at the loading dock.

It is essential that everyone follow proper precautions in order to keep the loading dock area as safe as possible. Employees should keep the area clean of debris by designating specific areas to put used pallets, containers and trash. They should never stack used pallets or containers too high, especially if there are pedestrians working in the area. Employees should always follow paint or tape markings indicating staging areas, aisles, overhead obstacles, obstructions and loading lanes whether they are walking, operating an industrial vehicle or driving a truck. Most importantly, they should never climb on docks, place any part of their body outside the dock door, jump down from docks or place themselves between the dock and a trailer. These are the most common causes of loading dock accidents.

Conveyor Belt Dos and Don’ts

In some ways, conveyor belts in the warehouse are safer than manual material handling. They eliminate some of the stress on workers’ backs, knees and ankles, and greatly enhance productivity. However, carelessness around conveyor belts also causes hundreds of injuries a year. When working with conveyor belts, workers are at risk for pinch-point and crush injuries as well as being trapped between a moving pallet load and a fixed structure. They should also watch out for sharp edges that cause cuts or bruises and hot parts that could scald or burn. Workers need to take these precautions to ensure their safety and health.

First, employees should never perform service on a conveyor unless they are authorized and only once they have followed the proper lockout/tag-out procedures. Failure to lockout/tag-out equipment is one of the biggest and most preventable mistakes employers and workers make. Employees should tie back long hair, not wear loose clothing or hanging jewellery, and remember to keep clothing, fingers and other body parts away from the conveyor – just because it has guards and safety devices does not mean employees cannot be injured.

Hazardous Substances

In a warehouse setting, employees face injury or illness potential from vehicle exhaust fumes, cleaning fluids or the stored product itself. To protect themselves, employees should never leave vehicles running in a closed setting, always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when cleaning or handling hazardous materials and know the proper procedures in case of a spill. In addition, they should be sure they know the location of first aid facilities, including the emergency eyewash and shower stations.

Risk of Fire

Employees may work in a setting where there is bulk storage of materials that ignite or burn easily. Pallets could ignite for a variety of reasons, including electrical fault, smoking on-site or improperly charging equipment batteries. To help lower risk of fire, never smoke in the warehouse, follow all battery-charging precautions and keep open areas free of debris. Employees should also take precautions in case of fire, including keeping all fire exits clear, making sure they are properly marked and knowing the location of extinguishers.

Industrial Truck Dangers

Industrial trucks present a serious hazard in warehouses, both in terms of driving them and charging their batteries. These vehicles, especially forklifts, are unstable by nature because they carry extremely heavy loads on only one end and have a continually shifting centre of gravity. When a load is on the truck, employees should carry it as low as possible with the mast tilted back to shift the weight toward the centre of the truck. Employees should lower their speed and drive cautiously on ramps, turns and uneven surfaces so the load does not shift unexpectedly.

Warehouse truck equipment can be powered in three ways: gas, propane or battery. For all types of refuelling or charging, employees need to wear the proper PPE, not smoke in the vicinity, turn off the vehicle and remove the key. For propane and gas refuelling, they should watch for leaks by detecting a distinct odour, a hissing sound or frost on fittings. If employees suspect a leak, they should address it immediately. For battery charging, they should always inspect connectors for damage and clean up battery acid spills immediately. Equipment charging is a serious task, and they should not perform this duty unless they are thoroughly trained to do so.

Ergonomics 101

Your workers’ jobs involve lots of heavy lifting, bending and twisting, and these are motions that can lead to serious injury. The best idea is to avoid these motions when possible, but they are often necessary due to the nature of the job. Besides practising proper lifting technique, it is important for employees to use conveyors and machinery whenever safe and feasible to reduce the stress on their bodies. Otherwise, the ideal is a one-touch system. Employees should avoid moving and shifting products around more times than necessary. When possible, they should lift the product once and set it in its proper place so other people do not have to lift it again later. 

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