All posts by Rosita Costagliola

Ontario tow operators prepare for CVOR system By John G. Smith

Ontario’s Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) system expands to include tow trucks on January 1, but there will be some breathing room for those who are still waiting on the related paperwork.

Enforcement teams will follow an “education” period until May 31, which in the absence of a CVOR certificate will let towing operators supply copies of a “written test required” letter, a completed CVOR application, payment receipt, or copy of an application submitted online. That will help to ensure provincial highways are still cleared of wrecks during this winter season, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation notes.

“There is no backlog in processing the applications,” says ministry spokesman Bob Nichols, adding that 424 tow operators have now applied for a CVOR. “The five-month education period is intended to provide those tow truck operators who have not completed the application process (e.g. not yet applied or not yet written their CVOR knowledge test) with some additional time to comply.”

The new rules were unveiled in 2014 under Bill 15: Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act.

The updated rules focus on traditional tow trucks as well as commercial vehicles with a flatbed that can tilt to load and is used exclusively to tow or move other motor vehicles. Any motor vehicle “designed, modified, configured or equipped” to tow other vehicles rounds out the list.

The province requires CVOR certificates – and their nine-digit numbers — for trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight above 4,500 kilograms (about 9,900 pounds), or buses that hold 10 or more passengers, if the vehicles are plated in Ontario, the U.S. or Mexico. Equipment plated in other Canadian jurisdictions don’t require the CVOR, but do need a safety fitness certificate from the province or territory where the vehicle is plated.

Towing operators that occasionally hauled freight such as small machinery were already required to carry a CVOR.

Details about the regulatory changes have been publicized over the last year, using everything from letters to information sessions and teleconferences, and the ministry is also producing a “tip card” that enforcement teams will distribute during the education period.

Ontario’s Provincial Towing Association has hosted 20 of its own information sessions about the changes, so there should be little surprise about the CVOR requirements, says Abrams Towing’s Joey Gagne, who is also association president.

“Any good business is following most of the CVOR regulations already – inspecting your vehicles, and hiring safe drivers, and making sure your vehicles are safe for the road,” he added. “There’s no profit in downtime. There’s no profit in having breakdowns.”

Towing operators will, until further notice, enjoy exemptions from Hours of Service rules, daily inspection requirements, and the need to pull into highway scales for inspections. The next phase of regulations will include specific rules for operators, drivers and vehicles, said Nichols.

Gagne believes such exemptions exist for good reason.

“We deal with the public, and the public is different from hauling goods,” he told Today’s Trucking. Scales are not equipped to host passengers while inspections are being conducted. Besides that, most towing businesses work within a 10-kilometer radius and would seldom be exposed to the highway scales, he said.

When it comes to work hours, meanwhile, there is no hope of scheduled work. “Your car breaks down when it breaks down. You don’t know when that’s going to happen,” Gagne said.

There are other exceptions to the CVOR, including trucks or buses leased to an individual for no more than 30 days to move personal goods, as well as unloaded trucks with dealer plates or in-transit permits. Pickups with a Gross Vehicle Weigh Rating of 6,000 kilograms (13,227 pounds) are also exempted.

But there are limits to what the CVOR will accomplish in the towing industry, Gagne said. “I don’t believe CVOR is going to be a fix-all,” he said, noting how it will not address concerns about businesses that recklessly “chase” accidents.

Under a CVOR, carriers are responsible for driver conduct, the mechanical condition of the vehicle, load security, and filing records on vehicle repairs, kilometers traveled per year, and annual inspection reports, among other documents.

The CVOR monitors safety records over two years, tracking factors such as convictions, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspections, reportable collisions, and ministry sanctions.

Potential sanctions range from disciplinary letters to interviews, audits or sanctions. At severe levels, that can mean limited fleet sizes, seized plates, or the outright cancellation of operating privileges.

For more information :

Here’s why Ontario roads need repairs so often By todaystrucking

TORONTO—Have you ever found yourself carefully threading your way through a highway road-repair site thinking “didn’t they just fix this?” If you’re in Ontario, your memory is serving you right.  And you’re not alone.  There are lots of patch jobs that didn’t last as long as they should. The situation is costing taxpayers millions and the substandard roads cost trucking companies untold amounts in wear-and-tear, delays and in fact accidents.

Last week, the province’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk indicated that she agrees.  And that something has to be done about the situation.

Last week, she released her annual report and “found that new and rehabilitated roads throughout the province are requiring repairs far sooner than expected, and that these premature failures are costing taxpayers millions of dollars in additional expenditures.”

The report linked these problems directly to the lack of a rigorous and independent quality-assurance. “Contractors are ‘essentially monitoring themselves with respect to engineering and material quality,’” the report states.

trucking road repairs lysykTAR TREK: Auditor General Lysyk says premature road failures are costing taxpayers millions

The report said the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO) increasing use of performance-based contracts has been a significant factor in this erosion of government oversight.Since these procurement arrangements (first introduced in 2010) require contractors to warrant that their work will meet specifications over defined periods of time, it was felt that independent testing and inspections were largely unnecessary.

As a result, contractors have been allowed to hire their own Quality Veri­fication Engineers (QVEs) to certify that key construction activities are performed to appropriate standards, and to collect and submit their own asphalt samples for quality testing.

One body that’s particularly pleased with the report is the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories (CCIL).

“We support the Auditor-General’s recommendations that MTO put in place the controls and processes that will restore independent oversight,” said Derwyn Reuber, Executive Director of CCIL. “This is critically important to assuring the public that their roads and bridges are safe and that their tax dollars are being spent wisely, especially now with the province planning to invest $18 billion on highway expansion and rehabilitation over the next 10 years.”

Reuber also applauded MTO’s response to the report. The Ministry said it will be developing an Action Plan that addresses the Auditor General’s observations and recom­mendations, and it will assume oversight of test samples starting next year.

“We’ve been urging the province to take a hard look at these issues, and we’re pleased that MTO is now moving forward,” Reuber commented. “We’re ready to work with Ministry officials in any way we can to help ensure that standards are being met and taxpayers are getting the best value for their money.”

Reuber added that his organization has been studying this  particular issue for about four years and he’s confident that the majority of contractors don’t cut corners or intentionally mislead inspectors, adding, “but some do, and the temptation’s there, especially if they’re trying to save money.”

He said as far as he knows, this is an Ontario problem. “To the best of my knowledge other provinces are adhering to more traditional means of inspections,” Reuber said.

Looking for place to nap? There’s an app for that.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Truck Parking Europe, the largest free parking app for truckers in Europe, is expanding to the United States with a new crowd-sourced app for truckers looking for a safe place to park.  The  new app–Truck Parking USA– is scheduled to launch in 2017 and will provide  truckers in the U.S. with access to the nearest parking and rest stops, reviews and more.

According to recent reports, as many as 75% of American truckers say  finding a safe place to park is one of their biggest challenges on a day to day basis. The ability to find quality parking alternatives with real time updates about availability is critical to driver safety.  Already in Europe, the Truck Parking app has helped hundreds of thousands of truckers stay safe while parked around the continent.

“With 3.5 million American truckers on the road today, it should come as no surprise that finding safe parking for them all is strain on state department of transportations,” said Niels de Zwaan, director of Truck Parking USA. “These truckers are the backbone of the American economy and as such deserve a voice and advocate for their safety.”

First launched in 2013, Truck Parking Europe has a database that includes more than 18,000 truck parking spaces from Ireland to Ukraine, with a total of more than 220,000 parking options for European truckers. Supported by the leading logistics software company PTV Group, Truck Parking Europe and USA harnesses state of the art route calculation to ensure truckers are getting the right information, every time.

There is no equivalent app for Canadian parking. Yet.

For more informartion :

US fleet sees safety improvements using in-cab video By Truck News

CARNESVILLE, Ga. – Davis Transfer president and CEO Todd David was going to have lunch to discuss implementing a video safety program into his fleet when he got the call every fleet manager dreads.

One of his trucks was involved in a fatal accident with a cyclist.

“What we had heard about the accident and the details we knew were very foggy,” he recalled. “That immediately persuaded me that we needed to know as soon as something happened or very quickly after, what we were dealing with.”

Davis Transfer’s trucks operate mostly in congested areas and the company has seen an increase in accidents involving litigation over the past eight years, Davis said.

“One of the problems trucking companies face is, when we are involved in an accident we have no idea the type of accident or the severity of the accident,” Davis said. “A lot of the information we get right away from the driver is incorrect.”

Davis Transfer opted for the SmartDrive video safety system, with forward- and driver-facing cameras, or as Davis prefers to call them, event recorders. Up to 80 different events can trigger a recording, which is first sent to SmartDrive’s review experts for analysis. If the event requires intervention from the fleet, the file goes into a coaching queue and the fleet’s safety department takes it from there, reviewing the footage with the driver and providing additional training to address the behavior.

“Davis Transfer was very specific about the risks they wanted to go after and we were able to customize that general response center to help them focus in on the events and types of risks they wanted to coach out of their fleet,” said Garland Yarborough of SmartDrive.

The company piloted the program across 20 trucks and found even some of its top drivers had developed bad habits, even though they had maintained clean driving records.

“One driver in particular had great miles, but he kept getting an event. He was running his truck off the road, which is one of the things that triggers the event recording system,” explained Brittany Britt, safety director with Davis Transfer. “He had a habit of looking at his phone while driving. We developed a coaching program specific to his need.”

The company has since rolled the program out across its entire fleet of 350 trucks. The system has also exonerated drivers of blame in certain crashes, Britt pointed out. During a webinar with SmartDrive this week, she showed a video in which a motorist pulled directly in front of a Davis truck that was traveling along safely, below the posted speed limit.

Davis Transfer uses an online training program from Mindflash to train drivers on the behaviors that are causing events.

Davis said drivers typically fall into two categories: the operationally excellent drivers who’ve become complacent and can correct their behavior; and the drivers who aren’t operationally excellent and are also unsafe and aren’t able or willing to adjust their driving behaviors.

“On the more experienced guy that’s good operationally, we’re going to work with him and give him every chance to improve,” Davis said, noting about 80% of drivers improve with coaching.

The results of the program have been impressive. Davis Transfer has a turnover rate of about 48%, including terminations, which is well below US standards. It saw its ratio of preventable crashes drop from more than 70% of all crashes in 2014 to less than 40% in 2016. Its crash indicator BASIC under CSA was over 80% when it launched the program and has now been driven down to 20%.

It has seen a 90% decrease in unsafe following distances, a 40% decrease in speeding and a 51% reduction in drivers using mobile devices.

SmartDrive Systems has also announced recent upgrades to its platform. It has doubled video capacity to more than 16 days; it introduced enhanced coaching workflow with contextual driving analytics, improving usability and unlocking driver performance insights; it added a skills-based coaching mode to event-oriented coaching, enabling an individualized approach to every driver; and it offers video on-demand capabilities with full mobility support and a “shopping cart” video ordering experience.

For more on the system, visit

Québec modifications


Changement de réglementation au Québec.

New rules in Québec.

For more information :

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US trucking conditions moving in carriers’ favor by Truck news

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Trucking conditions in the US are improving, which should boost pricing and margins for carriers through the end of next year.

That’s according to the latest FTR Trucking Conditions Index, which came in at 5.47 in September, a slight retreat from August levels but reflecting an overall positive trend for carriers. The reading reflects a modest tightening in capacity, FTR reports. It is forecasting trucking conditions to peak in late 2017 or early 2018, as additional regulations that could reduce capacity take effect.

“The presidential election results have created some uncertainty in the market, mainly due to the lack of political and legislative experience from president-elect Donald Trump,” said Jonathan Starks, chief operating officer with FTR. “There are certainly several areas where the new administration could make an impact on the marketplace – with regulations being the chief area of presidential power in that regard. We will learn more in the upcoming weeks and months as the administration’s team is finalized and the legislative and regulatory agenda is cemented. I wouldn’t look for any significant impacts to the US economy until relatively late in 2017. The US economy should continue to grow – and trucking will grow slowly with it.”


Despite drop in thefts, CargoNet advises to be vigilant during US Thanksgiving By Truck News

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Truck and cargo theft during the American Thanksgiving weekend has been on the decline, according to CargoNet.

The analytics business examined theft trends during the holiday week from 2012-15 and found that there were 107 cargo thefts and 39 trucking vehicle thefts during that time.

In 2012, 50 thefts were recorded, compared to 34 in both 2013 and 2014 and 28 in 2015.

CargoNet’s 2012-15 analytics determined that the estimated loss value for stolen cargo was $8.2 million, and on average, each individual theft was valued at $147,059.

Forty-one per cent of all incidents were not recognized until at least one day after the theft occurred, which resulted in no available leads for law enforcement to go on.

Texas led the way in Thanksgiving week thefts, with 35 reported, nearly double the next highest state, California, where 20 occurred.

Food and beverage items were the cargo of choice for thieves, with 31 incidents reported. Twelve thefts of electronics were reported; 11 of metals and 10 of apparel and accessories.

No turkeys were reported stolen in CargoNet’s analysis.

 For more information :

U.S. Xpress testing fuel economy with PIT Group By Today’s Trucking partner, Heavy Duty Trucking

“Spec’ing a truck today is a science,” Dwayne Haug says bluntly. “If you just go to a dealer and pick one off the lot, you’re doing it wrong.”

Haug ought to know what he’s talking about. He’s a Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Silver Spark Plug honoree who started at a small, Midwestern fleet in 1972 and eventually spent 26 years at Werner Enterprises. Today, Haug is a private fleet consultant who is helping The Pit Group, a Canadian-based engineering and consulting firm, make its first inroads in the U.S. Pit is working with American fleets to test and verify emerging powertrain, fuel efficiency and safety technology, as well as trucking-specific best practices both in the shop and in the cab.

“We’re on the cusp of a whole new era in trucking,” Haug explains. “Everything is changing. And nothing can be taken for granted. Fleets need good, hard data verifying that new technologies or procedures are going to benefit their bottom line. And the Pit Group are specialists when it comes to helping its fleet members identify ways to run better and boost their bottom line.”

“Fleets need good, hard data verifying that new technologies or procedures are going to benefit their bottom line”

“You have to remember that fuel is $4 a gallon in Canada today,” explains Yves Provencher, director of the Pit Group. “Many U.S. fleets became very technology focused a decade ago when prices shot up suddenly.”

Provencher says that, to a degree, that interest faded over the past few years as fuel prices fell to more manageable price points. “But in Canada, $4 is our everyday reality,” he notes, explaining that Pit goes back to 1975. “In 2008 the Canadian trucking industry asked us to help them identify and verify new technologies and best practices so they run more profitably.”

The Pit Group is a non-profit, member-driven organization with a team of ready-to-travel engineers. The organization has the ability to carry out verification tests in remote, real-world or track conditions, as well as perform cold room and laboratory testing with the newest equipment and sensors.

Provencher says the group sees itself as a “hub” between technology providers and fleet managers, with a goal toward developing, testing and accelerating the implementation of safe, sustainable and efficient trucking technologies.

The Pit Group is currently working with more than 50 Canadian and U.S. truck fleets. Since 2007 it has conducted 16 different testing campaigns examining approximately 300 technologies and best practices for a price tag of over $3 million.

“Our fleet members set our agenda,” Provencher adds. “We have advisory meetings, and they tell us what technologies or practices are important to them and need to be investigated. So we are always working in their best interest.”

U.S. Express hosts Tunnel Hill Fuel Test

One Pit Group member is Chattanooga, Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress, which this week is hosting a Pit Group Class 8 tractor fuel test out of its Tunnel Hill, Georgia, fleet facility. The test involves nine brand-new, tractors including Peterbilt Model 579s, Kenworth T680s, Navistar LTs and both conventional, and next-generation Freightliner Cascadias. 

Gerry Mead, U.S. Xpress’ senior vice president of maintenance (and a 2016 HDT Truck Fleet Innovator) happily prowled the floor of his shop at Tunnel Hill earlier this week as his techs swarmed over the tractors, preparing them for their 52-mile runs to determine which tractor will turn in the best fuel economy numbers at the test’s conclusion.

“This a big deal and I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Mead said, gesturing to the Navistar LT behind him. “We had Navistar President Bill Kozek personally sign off on getting this new tractor down here for this test. They’ve got a lot of confidence in the design and they’re anxious to show off its performance. And they understand that the Pit Group is the perfect organization to accomplish that goal.”

Provencher says the carefully controlled test will follow TMC’s Type III Fuel Consumption Test Procedures on a 52-mile course on both highways and local roads. Drivers will be rotated through the vehicles carefully to eliminate as many variables as possible, eventually winnowing the nine trucks down to three finalists, with a winner declared by week’s end.

Each truck is fitted with a 36-gallon temporary fuel tank fitted behind the tractor’s cab. The tanks are filled carefully to account for heat and humidity ahead of the run. Upon returning to the Tunnel Hill shop, the tanks are removed and weighed on highly sensitive scales to determine the precise amount of remaining fuel.

Left to right, the Pit Group's Dwayne Haug, U.S. Xpress' Gerry Mead, and Pit's Yves Provencher and Marc Bolduc prepare to begin a TMC Type III Fuel Test at U.S. Xpress headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo: Jack RobertsLeft to right, the Pit Group’s Dwayne Haug, U.S. Xpress’ Gerry Mead, and Pit’s Yves Provencher and Marc Bolduc prepare to begin a TMC Type III Fuel Test at U.S. Xpress headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo: Jack Roberts

Haug notes that most big fleets today carry on their own testing. “And that’s good. But Pit Group can really reinforce those findings and add an extra layer of confidence to your operations,” he says. “The more information you have, the smarter you can spec your trucks and run your fleet. And because our findings are ultimately rooted in the return on investment, you can be confident that the money you save goes straight to your bottom line.”

It’s an approach that Mead finds appealing. “Like most carriers, U.S. Xpress takes fuel economy seriously, and we believe this test will help validate the decisions we’ve made about our equipment,” Mead says. “Using a proven process and a certified, highly experienced team from Pit Group will provide us with solid fuel test results on fuel economy, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results.”

Volvo demonstrates new active driver assist By Jame Menzies, Truck News

LAURENS, S.C. – You have to have faith in your equipment, and the engineers who designed it, to keep your foot planted firmly on the accelerator as you bear down on a stopped SUV in a Class 8 highway truck. But that’s exactly what Volvo and Bendix officials did Monday in showcasing their new Volvo Active Driver Assist (VADA) collision mitigation system, and no metal was crumpled in the demonstration.

It builds on Volvo Enhanced Cruise, but offers new capabilities and the ability to mitigate front-end collisions in all traffic situations – regardless of whether or not cruise control is active. One of the most notable improvements is the ability to recognize stationary objects and automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t react quickly enough.VADA, announced in early October at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition, is Volvo’s fully integrated version of Bendix Wingman Fusion. Volvo’s the first truck maker to integrate the information generated by Wingman Fusion into its existing driver display, eliminating the need for a second in-cab display and the potential for distraction.

“It’s able to detect an object and once it’s identified by the camera that it’s a vehicle, it gives the driver alarms to react accordingly. If they don’t, it will activate the brakes and brake automatically,” explained Ash Makki, product marketing manager with Volvo.

Volvo says 31% of truck crashes today involve front-end collisions. VADA’s automatic braking is available at speeds of 15 mph or higher. At slower speeds, such as in stop-and-go traffic, it will still sound alarms but automatic braking isn’t applied. In addition to issuing audible alerts, a bright red LED ring appears around the speedometer, giving the driver a visual cue if he or she is looking at their gauges instead of the road.

VADA combines a new radar, with a greater range of 500 feet forward and 22-degrees width, with a windshield-mounted camera that has a 42-degree viewing angle. This allows the system to work in all weather conditions; when it’s too foggy for the camera to pick up lane markings, the radar will take over the lane departure warning requirements. Lane departure warning comes standard with VADA and sounds audible alerts when a driver leaves his or her lane without signaling. It sounds a different set of alarms if the system notices, through erratic driving, that the driver may be tired.


Drivers have the ability to turn off lane departure warnings for 15 minutes when traveling through a construction zone or other areas where lane markings aren’t present.

Wingman Fusion also offers overspeed alerts but Volvo is not yet offering that feature. The camera reads roadside speed limit signs and alerts the driver and fleet manager when speed limits are exceeded by 10 mph or more. Volvo is still working on integrating that feature into its driver display and plans to add it in the future.

Another new benefit is the ability to prioritize alerts. If, for example, the truck is leaving its lane without signaling but also about to run into the vehicle in front, VADA will determine which of the two items is the most urgent to address and react accordingly.

The camera can be used as a driver coaching tool. When an event occurs – ie. hard-braking, fast cornering, a sudden maneuver – it captures 20 seconds of footage, the 10 immediately preceding the event and the 10 that followed. That footage is stored in Bendix’s SafetyDirect online portal. Fleet managers can monitor the performance of drivers and use the video footage for coaching.

“A lot of fleets like to use this feature to educate drivers,” said Makki. “You don’t have to wait until an accident happens.”

Drivers can also manually save footage with the press of a button if they see something on the road of note, for example if they’ve witnessed an accident. The camera can store up to 40 video files at a time. When there has not been an incident to record, the camera runs on a continuous loop, erasing footage it previously recorded. Fleet managers don’t have the ability to peek in on their drivers.

Jim Kennedy, vice-president of maintenance for McKenzie Tank Lines, a 275-truck tanker fleet based in Tallahassee, Fla. and serving the US, Canada and Mexico, is a big believer in the technology.

“VADA is there to support drivers,” he said.

He monitors excessive braking, cornering speed, lane departures, forward collision warnings, etc. and sets high and low performance thresholds. He then keys in on the drivers who generate the most alerts and offers additional training. Volvo’s active safety systems, including Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology (VEST), have helped the company nearly eliminate rollover and rear-end collisions, Kennedy said.

From 2003 to 2007, McKenzie Tank Lines had 47 rear-end collisions and 11 rollovers. Since 2010 it has only had a single rollover and it has only had two rear-end collisions in the past three years.

“Every single vehicle that has had either one of these events – because you have a transitionary period when you’re bringing in new equipment – every one did not have on it the technology that affected that specific type of event,” Kennedy said. “That speaks volumes. That’s where we feel the proof is.”

Volvo made VEST standard in 2005, looking to eliminate the 28% of commercial vehicle accidents that involve a rollover.

After demonstrating VADA and VEST to trade press editors, Volvo brought in more than 100 dealers and customers for similar demonstrations during its Safety Symposium. It was hosted at Michelin’s sprawling 3,300-acre proving grounds near Laurens, S.C.


U.S. adds 30 days to speed limiter comment period By Today’s Trucking Staff

WASHINGTON, DC — A 30-day extension has been added to the U.S. public comment period on a national speed limiter proposal for trucks.

The new deadline of Dec. 7 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows “all interested parties sufficient opportunity to fully develop and submit comments and evidentiary materials to the agencies via,” according to a Nov. 1 announcement from the agencies.

The proposal, found here, would require all newly-manufactured U.S. trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,000 lbs. to be equipped with speed limiting devices primarily to improve safety on the roads.