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Despite pot legalization in Canada, professional drivers reminded trucking still ‘zero tolerance’ industry

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Now that Canada has legalized the recreational use of marijuana, professional truck drivers plying highways on both sides of the border are reminded that trucking in North America is still a “zero tolerance” industry.

That’s according to Garth Pitzel, who is director of safety and driver development for Canada-based Bison Transport, a safety award winner for many years.

Neither is Bison going to be involved in transporting cannabis or its derivative products, Pitzel said. “We’re not going to get involved in that; we’ll not jeopardize our employees. A fellow [in another company] was banned from the U.S. for life because he was involved in the cannabis business in Canada.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is warning travelers that pot remains an illegal narcotic in the U.S., noted Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operator Business Association of Canada (OBAC).

And, she told The Trucker, although Canada has no federal/provincial labor rules on drug and alcohol testing outside the military because of privacy issues, “most workplaces, including trucking companies, have their own policies around the use of drugs and alcohol, including an obligation to follow U.S. rules when in the U.S.

“Leading up to pot legalization in Canada there was a lot of emphasis on making sure the trucking industry was ready with updated policies in place.”

In Canada, she said, local provinces and territories are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within their jurisdictions. They’re also responsible for how roadside inspections are conducted, with drug-impaired driving offenses treated the same as driving alcohol-impaired, meaning zero tolerance for novice drivers, young drivers up to 22 years of age and commercial drivers.

So far in Canada, Ritchie said, the only federally approved device for testing THC, the psychoactive agent in pot, is roadside saliva testing, which shows if cannabis was consumed in the last 12 hours.

“The issue of roadside drug-testing is still under debate,” Ritchie said. “Most police forces are planning to keep it ‘business as usual’ with sobriety field tests at roadside, but it’s less clear which jurisdictions will be using oral screening devices.”

Unlike tests for alcohol intoxication, the saliva tests don’t show the level of cannabis impairment, according to Pitzel.

He said Canada’s national policy says a person is allowed only so much cannabis in their possession and provisional jurisdictions break it down further as to where cannabis can be consumed, which doesn’t include public places.

“The provinces really clamped down; you can’t do it in any public spots so it’s really only [allowed] in your house,” he said.

There are a lot of professional truck drivers on the roads who are at risk of other drivers’ impairment, Pitzel said, “and we want to make sure they [truckers] get home safely as far as training and procedures.”

He added that penalties for driving while drunk have increased but not for driving while impaired by cannabis.

News sources report Canada law enforcement are wrestling with the sale and consumption of cannabis edible products, such as candy or bakery items infused with cannabis. Those kinds of items are attractive to children but can contain amounts of THC which can be harmful to them.

“One complication is that unlike alcohol, there is no clear consensus on what constitutes marijuana impairment,” Ritchie said, “and current testing methods such as urine and blood tests can be misleading since THC can linger in the body for days or weeks. So the test indicates only prior consumption, not current impairment.”

In short, she said, “it’s not a straightforward issue.”

 

 

 

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The Nation

Diesel heads up 4 cents a gallon to $3.006

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Diesel prices jumped 4 cents a gallon to ring up Tuesday at $3.006. (The Trucker file photo)

For the past several months, including the end of 2018, all the “experts” said oil (and consequently diesel) was going nowhere but up. It had to, they reasoned, after prices had almost literally scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Then oil and diesel both went down for weeks. After that it stayed the same.

Now diesel prices are finally up — 4 cents a gallon — to $3.006 a gallon Tuesday from $2.966 a gallon last week.

Normally, diesel prices would have been announced Monday, but since it was President’s Day, diesel prices were released Tuesday.

And it may be a testament to how long prices had been going down or stayed flat that none of the U.S. Information Administration’s 10 reporting regions were clocking $4-a-gallon diesel, not even California, where diesel was ringing up at $3.739.

Also, four regions were still below $3 a gallon as of Tuesday.

And although 4 cents a gallon for the on-highway national average was a significant jump from the week before, the Lower Atlantic and Midwest regions each jumped 5.5 cents a gallon. Diesel in the Lower Atlantic sector went from $2.872 last week to $2.927 Tuesday while in the Midwest, diesel prices went from $2.849 last week to $2.904 today.

The Gulf Coast had the lowest prices at $2.809 a gallon, up 3.3 cents from the week prior.

Is this the start of an upward trend? It’s hard to know what oil prices will do in a global economy that is teetering since what seems like a bandwagon jump out of the European Union.

Meanwhile, oil was trading up:

U.S. crude added 48 cents to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after gaining $1.19 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 16 cents to $66.34 per barrel, The Associated Press reported.

For diesel prices by sector, click here.

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Ohio governor to reveal gas tax hike plan Thursday

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Ohio's tp Transportation Department executive says the state is facing an "impending crisis" unless more road funding is provided. (The Trucker file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll announce Thursday his proposed recommendation for increasing the state’s gas tax to deal with a chronic shortfall in spending on road construction.

DeWine, a Republican, says there are no other solutions outside a gas tax increase, while warning that any increase simply keeps Ohio from falling behind.

He wouldn’t provide details or say what the proposed increase will be. He spoke at an annual forum sponsored by The Associated Press.

DeWine says the increase is “just to keep us where we are today.”

The head of the Ohio Department of Transportation director said earlier this month that Ohio’s road maintenance and infrastructure are facing an “impending crisis” unless more funding is provided.

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OOIDA Foundation issues information it says debunks driver shortage ‘myth’

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Most carriers with high turnover do so by design, says OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions,” he said.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s research foundation published two new documents it says debunks the driver shortage “myth.”

A fact sheet explains how the industry isn’t afflicted with a shortage of drivers, but is actually plagued with overcapacity and driver retention, the foundation reported.

A second, accompanying document talks about how wages have decreased for truck drivers at large carriers and many have moved toward smaller fleets.

Last year, the association also created a short video that explains why there is high turnover as opposed to a shortage.

“We are concerned about the perpetuation of a myth of driver shortage,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “This misinformation is used to push agendas that are harmful to the industry and highway safety.”

To address the supposed driver “shortage,” some organizations have suggested that the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license should be lowered from 21 to 18.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered.” Spencer said.

OOIDA also contends that any issue with retention could be mitigated with other solutions that would be safer for all highway users.

For example, compensation has been shown to be tied directly to highway safety, as revealed in studies that suggest there is a strong correlation between driver pay and highway safety, Spencer said.

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” he said. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.

 

 

 

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