We sometimes forget nowadays how easily we can obtain the essential and not-so-essential goods that we use and consume each day. We tend to take for granted the idea that when we need something, it will be on a local store shelf or in a storage tank or warehouse. We don’t think about all those trucks on the road that are actually there because of us and that their presence is a positive indicator.
This year we celebrate National Trucking Week from September 6 to 13. It’s a good time to reflect on the role that the trucking industry plays in Canada and BC.
In 2008, our industry was responsible for 54 percent of the value of Canada’s trade with the US and generated $15.6 billion of the national GDP. In BC, our share of the province’s GDP is about $1.67 billion. Because we’re involved in virtually every economic transaction and sometimes many times over in a product’s life cycle, our contributions reflect the economy.
The trucking industry employs over 360,000 people in Canada. Driving trucks is still one of the leading occupations for men in the country. In BC and the Territories, for-hire companies employ well over 30,000 people, and this number doesn’t include drivers and others who work for private companies that move only their own goods. The industry provides stable and well-paying jobs, not only for professional drivers but for transport mechanics, warehouse workers, IT and logistics specialists and administrative staff in communities across the province. Chances are you know someone who works in trucking.
Our trucks are technological marvels. New engines are virtually smog-free, thanks to low-sulphur diesel fuel and stringent emission standards. New technologies are also helping us to cut greenhouse gas emissions. We’re doing what we can to reduce fuel usage and adopt environmentally sound practices like zero-idling and speed reduction.
And, although our safety record has never been better, we continually strive for improvements. Heavy-duty trucks are involved in only 3.9 percent of all collisions in BC. In multi-vehicle fatal collisions, truck drivers were at fault 19 percent of the time, compared to 57 percent for the drivers of other vehicles. Reputable trucking companies take safety seriously, investing time, money and energy in training and maintenance to ensure high standards for our employees, equipment and cargo, not to mention other drivers on the road. That’s just good business.
Even 50 years ago, the Trans-Canada Highway didn’t quite exist from sea to sea. Now we can’t imagine what it would be like not to have those roads and the trucks and professional drivers that travel them bringing us the products that our families, businesses and communities need to thrive.
Transport Canada says that transportation overcomes the challenges imposed by “topography and geography, linking communities and reducing the effects of distances separating people from each other.” This week especially, I’d say we should be thankful that’s the case.
BCTA is the recognised voice of the provincial motor carrier industry, representing over 800 truck and bus fleets and over 250 suppliers to the industry. Over 13,000 vehicles are operated by BCTA members in BC. BCTA operating members employ 26,000 people in BC and generate over $2 billion in revenue in the province annually.