Breaking Down Barriers: Staying Safe on the Road for Female Truck Drivers

As the trucking industry scrambles to fill empty truck driver seats, more and more female truck drivers are hitting the highways. 

But while this growing workforce of female truckers is a welcome addition to trucking, there is one looming barrier that trucking companies must address—safety. 

Safety, by its very nature, is a priority for truckers. 

As a truck driver, you might mitigate safety risks by taking a truck driver safety course, adhering to hours-of-service regulations, taking regular breaks, and performing truck maintenance. 

For female truck drivers, however, there are additional safety risks that must be addressed. 

Representation Matters 

Traditionally, trucking has been male-dominated due to the nature of its physical demands. 

In recent decades of the 21st century, trucking companies have made significant progress in diversifying the truck driver workforce.

According to the Women in Trucking (WIT) Index, there has been a three percent increase in female drivers since 2019, and comprising about 14% in North America alone. 

In Canada and other parts of the world, women make up at least 3% of the professional truck driving workforce and a higher percentage in leadership roles. 


These recent figures are encouraging for those who advocate for inclusivity within the transportation sector. 

But, as essential members of a competitive industry, how are women safe on the road and in their workplace? Are companies and organizations taking preventive measures to ensure the security of their drivers? 

Female driver

A Tough Journey 

In November 2022, safety was a topic of conversation during the kick-off meeting of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) under their new charter, the Women of Trucking Advisory Board (WOTAB). A higher recruitment rate of women would be likely when they feel protected in their environment.

How trucking companies can protect and accommodate their female truck drivers is a hot-button issue for trucking executives and safety personnel.

Here are some of the top concerns female truckers face on the road.

1. Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

In the survey conducted by FMCSA in the WOTAB meeting, about 55% reported harassment, assault, and threats, while 42% did not. Further survey results included not only women but also minority males and people identifying as other genders.

2. Work-Life Balance

With hours on the road sometimes stretching into late nights and early mornings, truckers often feel they have no control over their personal life.

3. Truck Design

A truck’s size, pedal placement, and truck cab height can pose a safety risk for truckers, particularly for female truck drivers as they may have to climb up and down the truck multiple times in a shift, leading to potential injuries.

A Gennaro white tractor head

Safety Is Always Road-Worthy 

Extra precaution and vigilance on the part of truck drivers, trucking companies, and the trucking industry can help ensure female truckers are safe on their routes. 

Ensuring the goods they transport and services they provide are equally important to your safety and protection. 

Safety Tips for Women Truck Drivers 

1. Plan Ahead

Map out truck routes before setting off. This means planning your bathroom breaks, truck stops, and overnight stays. When stopping at a rest area, you should try and find one that is well-lit and has other people around – preferably in view from inside the cab – so that you can feel safer while trucking.

2. Request Safety Training

If you don’t already have truck driver safety training, request it from your employer. Completing a truck driver safety course can help you understand the risks and dangers associated with trucking and provide tips on how to stay safe while driving. 

A safety course may include truck driver safety skills such as defensive driving, blind spot awareness, and truck backing techniques.

3.  Stay Alert

Awareness is key to truck driver safety. Be sure to stay aware of the traffic around you and your blind spots, especially when switching lanes or merging. 

4.  Know Your Truck

Whether it’s a truck or bus, know the size and weight of your vehicle before you drive.  Knowing the truck’s limits helps to prevent accidents and can help prevent excessive truck wear and tear.

Semi-trucks at truck stop

5. Keep Doors Locked

Your first line of truck driver safety defence is to keep truck doors locked when stationary and when moving. This will help to secure the truck from intruders and potential theft.

6. Keep Emergency Supplies

Every driver needs certain items in case anything happens while on the road – like flares, first aid kits, tools, flashlights etc. But female truckers, in particular, might want to carry additional emergency supplies like pepper spray or personal defence devices just in case you encounter  a dangerous situation. 

7. Trust Your Instincts

Be wary of red flags like warning signs when it comes to potential danger. If you feel uncomfortable with a situation or location, move away immediately or call for help if necessary. 

Staying Safe on the Road 

Organizations such as Women in Trucking (WIT) have initiated campaigns like ‘Share the Road,’ which focuses on raising awareness about issues faced by female truckers.

We’re finally seeing truck safety being taken seriously, but there is still more that can be done. 

With truck driver safety courses and the tips mentioned here, female truckers can be more confident in their ability to truck safely and be empowered to make trucking their career.  

And with trucking becoming more gender-inclusive, truck driver safety is something that everyone should be aware of. Together, truckers can help create a safe trucking environment for all.    

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Interested in truck driver safety courses? At Gennaro Transport Training, we take truck driver safety seriously and  offer a Professional Driver Improvement Course (PDIC) along with a range of other truck driving training classes. We want you to continuously enhance your truck driver safety skills and be best-in-class on the road. Contact us today to find out more!

Will Driverless Trucks Dominate Canadian Roads In The Future? Here’s Why Truckers Shouldn’t Worry

The possibility of self-driving trucks on Canadian roads has opened up a lively debate among both truck drivers and experts in the transportation industry. 

The spark for the debate was lit when Loblaws Supermarket and Gatik’s pioneering plan to use these vehicles for grocery deliveries was announced.

It took Loblaws and Gatik 2 years to transition to driverless delivery trucks. They needed to do test runs with safety drivers at first. 150,000 self-driving trucks passed without any incidents.


Naturally, this development prompts the question of how this will impact the human drivers. 

After all, it sounds like a daunting prospect for truckers—but are we really on the brink of a driverless truck revolution?

Let’s examine the facts to answer this question.

Why Are Automated Driving Technologies Being Developed?

Man in self-driving car.

Over the years, autonomous driving technologies in logistics have been developed to help stakeholders in many factors, such as:

Worsening Labor Shortage

A shortage of drivers in Canada has caused many drivers to work more than their usual hours. If this persists for many years, autonomous trucks can help alleviate the problem.

Opportunities To Improve Efficiency & Productivity

Driverless trucks don’t get tired and can work longer than human drivers. This means that self-driving trucks can reduce delivery times, allowing companies to move more goods faster.

Possibilities To Enhance Safety

Self-driving vehicles are programmed to obey traffic laws and drive more defensively, which reduces the risk of accidents on the road.

Chances To Improve Reliability And Scheduling Accuracy

Automated systems allow for better scheduling accuracy as delays due to human error become eliminated when self-driving technology is used instead of manual labor in transportation jobs such as long-haul trucking trips across Canada’s vast highways.

Achieve Possible Environmental Benefits

In a 2021 report by the World Economic Forum, it’s estimated that 15% of trucking kilometers are driven without load. Driverless trucks can help reduce this number as they’re programmed to deliver goods more efficiently, on time, and with maximum fuel efficiency.

Why Truckers Don’t Need to Worry About Driverless Trucks?

Trucker checking his phone while parked.

The rise of self-driving trucks does not mean the end for truckers.

Autonomous cars are still in their early stages of development and cannot yet drive independently. 

They still require human drivers to take over in complicated and dangerous situations.

Cost

The cost to operate is also a factor to consider. Autonomous vehicles require expensive technology and components that are not readily available or cost-effective in the Canadian market. 

This could mean driverless trucks will be used for specific routes only for testing, leaving human drivers to handle more complex deliveries where driverless trucks can’t go.

Autonomous Trucking Is No Overnight Feat

Experts can’t predict that self-driving trucks will conquer the roads right away. The transition is a long process that requires the collaboration between manufacturers, regulators and lawmakers.

And even if companies are able to find solutions to all the challenges in autonomous driving, truck platooning or semi-autonomous driving will probably be the norm for a long time.

Truck platooning is a driver-assisted way of driving that involves multiple trucks led by a driver in the front.

The lead truck dictates the movement and speed of the whole convoy while the trailing trucks follow and move at a safe distance.

Take note: the trailing trucks are still being driven by pro drivers, but automation has enabled them to adjust to the lead’s speed with less effort.

Data and Security

Again, driverless deliveries won’t be the norm anytime soon. Automation will happen slowly and ease the stress of truckers. But automation still requires a lot of training and knowledge.

There still needs to be more professional drivers who can interpret the data and decide based on what’s in front of them.

There’s also the issue of hacking. Fully and partially autonomous vehicles are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which means these trucks need strict security measures in place.

Safety and Liability

Autonomous vehicles can still experience glitches and malfunctions, putting driverless trucks in dangerous situations.

This can be a problem, especially with driverless trucks traveling on busy highways with other driver-operated vehicles.

Manufacturers might also be held liable in case of an accident, but this is still debated.

Infrastructure Development

Not all roads in Canada are suitable for driverless trucking.

To be able to deploy driverless trucks on major highways and routes, more infrastructure development is needed.

This will involve adding sensors, signals, and other communication devices that driverless trucks can use to navigate safely.

Government Support

Driverless trucks need the support of government authorities.

The Canadian government will have to push regulations to ensure driverless trucks are safe and secure when used on public roads.

Public Acceptance

Lastly, driverless trucks will need to gain public acceptance.

Fleet owners must adjust to the benefits and consequences of fully-autonomous trucking.

Stakeholders will also need to educate and inform the public about driverless trucks for them to be comfortable with the idea of driverless deliveries.

The Long Road To Fully Autonomous Truck Driving

The bottom line? If you’re an aspiring truck driver, driverless trucking is not something you need to worry about anytime soon. 

The technology is still in its infancy, and experts predict that it will be a while before we see driverless trucks dominate on Canadian roads.

Truckers can rest assured that their jobs are safe and will remain so for the foreseeable future. 

In the meantime, consider improving your driving skills and becoming a certified truck driver. 

This will help you stay ahead of the curve and be ready for when autonomous trucking eventually takes over. 

By leveraging these opportunities, truckers can ensure they remain competitive in the future job market. 

Here at Gennaro Transport Training, we offer the best comprehensive driving courses to help you be job-ready or improve your skills.

With the proper training, you can be confident and ready for any driver job in Alberta. Let’s get trucking!

ELDs Are Coming: Here’s What You Need to Know

Canada’s ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate is at full speed, and it’s officially taking full effect on January 1, 2023. 

The new directive requires every commercial motor carrier and driver to use an ELD that will record their driving hours. This rule officially passed on June 12 this year, but the actual enforcement of the mandate will not start until January 1, 2023. That means if you don’t have one of these devices installed in your truck by the end of the year, you may face fines or other penalties in the future.

Let’s take a closer look at what the ELD mandate means for Canadian carriers and drivers and how it can affect aspiring and veteran truck drivers down the road.

What is an ELD?

An electronic logging device (ELD) is a data logging tool that automatically records driving hours, vehicle movement, and other essential information related to commercial trucking operations. This allows carriers and drivers to not only monitor but regulate their working hours accurately.

What Is the Purpose of The Mandate?

The ELD mandate was created to help drivers reduce their reliance on paperwork when logging work hours. Since the new law encourages accurate monitoring, it also hopes to reduce the number of overworked drivers and fatalities on the road.

This implementation of the new rule has been a long time coming. It was announced by Transport Canada way back in 2019 and was originally scheduled to go full swing on June 12, 2022, but a number of delays in the deadline pushed it back to January 1, 2023.

What does this mean for Alberta truck drivers?

The ELD mandate was created to help drivers reduce their reliance on paperwork when logging work hours. Since the new law encourages accurate monitoring, it also hopes to reduce the number of overworked drivers and fatalities on the road.

In Alberta, federally regulated truck carriers and drivers are required to install and maintain an ELD in their vehicles beginning January 1, 2023. It is recommended that these drivers familiarize themselves with the responsibilities they have under the ELD mandate.

Good To Know:Types of Carriers Under Alberta’s Hours of Service Regulations

  1. Provincial carriers operate vehicles that adhere to the Canadian National Safety Code standard. Vehicles in this category usually do not leave the province.
  2. Federal carriers operate vehicles that follow the Federal Hours of Service. Most vehicles in this category are required to follow the ELD mandate.

On the other hand, provincially regulated drivers and carriers aren’t required to use the electronic devices. Additionally, drivers in Alberta who want to use a paper logbook to track their hours instead can be exempted from doing so if:

  • They drive federally registered vehicles weighing more than 4,500 kilograms and operating within 160 km radius of the drivers home terminal
  • They drive buses with 11 passengers, including the driver, operating within 160 km radius of driver’s home terminal
  • They drive emergency vehicles

+ See complete list here

This implementation of the new rule has been a long time coming. It was announced by Transport Canada way back in 2019 and was originally scheduled to go full swing on June 12, 2022, but a number of delays in the deadline pushed it back to January 1, 2023.

Good To Know: Canada ELD Mandate Timeline

  • December 16, 2017

Lawmakers proposed amendments to the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations.

  • June 13, 2019 

Transport Canada officially requires the use of ELDs for commercial vehicles and motor carriers. 

  • June 12, 2021

The mandate partially went into effect. The COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of certified ELDs delayed its full enforcement.

  • June 12, 2022 

The mandate was to take on full effect on this day but was again delayed for another 6 months to give the industry an ample amount of time to prepare. Certified ELDs were still too few which was another reason for the delay.

  • January 1, 2023

Commercial vehicles and motor fleets are expected to use ELDs starting January 1, 2023.

Aerial photo of parked trucks

Who Is Required To Use ELDs?

The new rule applies to all federally-regulated commercial drivers and motor carriers in Canada. In other words, most commercial trucks will require an ELD installation

For those in the motor carrier industry, the mandate specifically applies to commercial vehicles that are:

  • A truck, tractor, trailer or any vehicle that weighs more than 4,500 kg,
  • A bus that’s designed to transport more than 10 people

Man in front of two

Exemptions to Canada’s ELD Regulations

There are a few occasions wherein motor carriers and drivers aren’t required to use electronic logging devices. This includes trucker drivers who:

  • Are not required to track their record of duty status
  • Use vehicles that were built before model year 2000
  • Drive short-term rental trucks (for 30 days or less only)
  • Work for a motor carrier under a certain permit
  • Work for a motor carrier that has been given an exemption by the Motor Vehicle Transport Act

Securing Electronic Logging Devices for Your Fleet

Of course, the first step to complying with the new ELD mandate is to purchase electronic logging devices. But before you purchase the first ELD software or device that you see, it’s important to do your research and find an ELD solution that best fits your needs. Not to mention, electronic logging devices must pass the standards set by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA). It can either be an app or wireless device. These devices are required to be certified by a third-party. Truckers and fleet owners can visit Transport Canada’s website to find the latest list of certified ELDs.

Your Responsibilities Under the ELD Mandate

Canada’s ELD regulations may seem daunting initially, but the new mandate doesn’t have to be that difficult to comply with. As long as you’re prepared and armed with the right information, you can easily transition your fleet to using electronic logging devices. 

The law created new set of duties for commercial truckers that include the following:

1. Providing Additional Documents for Truckers With Two or More Commercial Vehicles

During roadside inspection, drivers are required to present a print out or digital copy of their other vehicle’s RODs.

2. Providing an Accurate Information on Their Electronic Log

Drivers are expected to digitally record work data that includes the following:

  • Driver ID number
  • The date and  start time
  • Their driving cycle
  • Truck’s license plates
  • The address of their motor fleet or carrier
  • The location where the driver stayed during a specific work day
  • The vehicle’s location

+ see complete list here

3. Archiving Important Support Documents

Drivers are expected to digitally keep work files that includes the following:

  • Records of messages between the driver and fleet carrier
  • Payroll summary or documents
  • Government-issued record that has the vehicle’s location
  • Records of the items you’re transporting. This includes your schedule, itinerary, or files that share the origin and destination of your route
  • Records that show the current health or condition of your vehicle
  • Reports that indicate the date, time, or location of the vehicle during a trip

These responsibilities should be  taken seriously, as harsh penalties can be imposed on drivers or truckers who fail to follow these rules.

Silhouette of man driving

Penalties for Noncompliance to ELD Regulations

As of writing, Transport Canada is currently proposing fines that are categorized in three levels of severity:

Minor Contraventions

Let’s start with minor contraventions. This can include administrative and minor reporting violations. Drivers who don’t accept or reject a fleet’s change to a record of duty status belong to this level.

Moderate Contraventions

Next, you can incur moderate contraventions. This can include on-duty and drive limitations, off-duty requirements, more serious recordkeeping infractions, and violations that can affect compliance monitoring by the motor fleet. Drivers who fail to update all information regarding their record of duty status fall into this category.

Severe Contraventions

Severe contraventions include falsification or obstruction of violations; more serious data archiving, on-duty and drive limitations, rest requirement contraventions. Drivers who tamper their records to prevent the proper enforcement of law fall into this category.

For drivers, fines for severe violations can go up to $1,000 while penalties for motor carriers can range up to $2,000. There is no final word about the penalties and all commercial drivers are encouraged to stay informed by visiting the Transport Canada website.

The Takeaway

At the outset, it is important to note that the ELD mandate is a complex and nuanced law with serious implications for all commercial drivers. Truckers and motor carriers need to be aware of their responsibilities under the new regulation and take them seriously to avoid costly penalties. This includes appropriately using electronic logging devices, maintaining accurate records of work data, and archiving important documents. Additionally, it is crucial to stay up-to-date on any changes or updates to the law, as violators are subject to harsh fines and other penalties. If you have questions about ELDs in Canada or would like support navigating this complex new law, consult a trusted legal expert for guidance.

As your source of reliable truck driving courses in Edmonton, Gennaro Transport Training is committed to providing you with the information and support you need when it comes to all things trucking. Check back for industry updates, review our driving courses, or contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. We look forward to helping you stay safe and compliant on the road!

Winter Driving Preparations: How to Prevent Casualties From Happening

Long-haul driving is one of the risks drivers voluntarily take and consider when getting into the trucking industry. 

Driving from one end of the country to another might sound like an exciting idea for a family road trip, but for a truck driver transporting tons of perishables, materials, or liquids? One small mistake or accident can result in a disaster on the road and the economy. 

And as the weather gets colder and the days shorter, long-haul driving becomes more hazardous than ever. With winter creeping in, truck drivers should take extra precautions on the road, as snow and frozen roads can hamper their journey. 

However, winter conditions are just one of the many things a truck driver has to be mindful of while driving. 

With the holiday season coming up, there is also an increased risk of distracted and impaired driving among motorists. 

And while we’d like to trust that fellow motorists are also driving responsibly, it is better to refresh and remind ourselves of the different types of distracted and impaired driving that we should look out for as we head into colder and longer nights on the road.

Common Types of Distracted Driving

Next to speeding, distracted driving is one of the leading contributing causes of car accidents and crashes in Edmonton. According to Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, whether or not your driving performance is affected, the law considers the following as distracted driving. 

Using Hand-Held Cell Phones

With the advancement of technology, most, if not all, people heavily rely on their mobile devices and cell-phones.

It might seem harmless to check or send a text message or an email while in transit, but if you are speeding 100km/h on the highway and hauling tons of goods on your truck, you might want to reconsider checking that notification for the safety of other motorists and your own.  

Operating Electronic Devices

If using a hand-held cell phone is a form of distracted driving, it goes without saying that using other electronic devices, such as:

  • Laptops
  • Cameras
  • Video games
  • Video entertainment displays
  • Portable audio players

While driving is also considered distracted driving.

a person checking the route through the car's GPS unit

Inputting Information on GPS Units

These days people rely on their GPS unit more than the printed map, whether they use an app on their mobile device or their vehicle’s system.

Even though a GPS is a necessary tool to go from one place to another, the law considers inputting information on a GPS unit while driving a form of distracted driving.

Reading Printed Materials

Reading a map or any printed material while driving a vehicle is also a type of distracted driving.

Personal Grooming

Some people have adopted the habit of brushing or flossing teeth, clipping nails, shaving, putting on makeup, and even curling hair while driving.

While some may consider personal grooming in the car a time-saver, the law states personal grooming is a form of distracted driving.

Penalty for Distracted Driving

The penalty for distracted driving is a $300 fine and three (3) demerit points. 

However, there are some activities that the law does not consider a type of distracted driving, such as:

  • Calling emergency services with a hand-held mobile device
  • Activating a mobile device and an earphone by voice or a single-touch
  • Drinking non-alcoholic beverages and eating a snack
  • Smoking
  • Talking with passengers
  • Listening to an audio player that was set up before driving
  • Using a hand-held or two-way radio for emergencies or when required by an employer
  • Using a display screen of GPS navigation, collision avoidance, passenger dispatch, vehicle information, logistical tracking system, and alcohol ignition interlock device

But even though doing these activities while driving will not charge you for distracted driving, it is highly encouraged that you keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel the entire time.

Common Contributing Causes of Impaired Driving

With the change of weather and the upcoming festivities, we can expect cases and accidents caused by impaired driving to spike up. 

The following are some of the common contributing causes of impaired driving:

Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the leading contributing causes of impaired driving

According to 2016 statistics, alcohol-impaired driving injured 5,494 people and killed 368 people over five years in Alberta alone. And in 2019, statistics show that the rate of alcohol-impaired driving rose by 15% in Canada.

While Canada has a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit, it does not mean that a person’s driving performance will not be affected if they have a BAC of 0.08% and below.

For example, a person with a BAC of 0.02% can experience the following:

  • Relaxation
  • Shift in mood
  • Some loss of judgment

These can affect a person’s ability to pay attention to the road and react in a timely manner while driving.

According to studies, the higher the driver’s BAC range is, the higher the fatality risk increases. For example, a driver with a BAC:

  • 0.02% to 0.05% will have a 3x higher fatality risk 
  • 0.05% to 0.08% will have a 6x higher fatality risk
  • 0.08% to 0.10% will have an 11x higher fatality risk

Cannabis

Since the legalization of cannabis, 2019 statistics show that the rate of cannabis-impaired driving increased by 43% compared to the previous year.

It is illegal for a person to drive after inhaling or consuming cannabis because it is difficult to pinpoint when the effects of cannabis start. Just like alcohol, cannabis can impair a person’s:

  • Judgment
  • Coordination
  • Reaction time
  • Balance

Additionally, a person who consumes alcohol and cannabis will have different effects and a higher fatality risk while driving.

Medication

Whether prescribed or bought over the counter, medical cannabis and other medical drugs can cause impaired-driving accidents.

Aside from cannabis, some types of drugs, such as:

  • Anti-depressants
  • Sleep medicine
  • Cough medicine
  • Antihistamine
  • Decongestants
  • Narcotic pain pills
  • Tranquilizers

Can affect a person’s:

  • Judgment
  • Reaction time
  • Alertness
  • Coordination
  • Attention
  • Comprehension

a blue rest area signage

Fatigue

According to research, driver fatigue is behind 20% of fatal collisions in Canada. It also shows that being awake for 17 to 19 hours is the same as having 0.05 blood alcohol content. With this, we can say that when a tired person is behind the wheel, they share the same risks as a drunk driver behind the wheel.

Penalty for Impaired Driving

The penalty for impaired driving ranges from $300 to a $2,000 fine and immediate license suspension, depending on the offense and roadside sanction. A driver can also be criminally charged and placed behind bars, depending on the circumstances of the offense.

a driver with his hand on the wheel while driving

Winter Driving Tips and Preparation

When it comes to driving, there is not much you can do for fellow motorists on the road but to be responsible for your condition and vehicle. And with the expected winter conditions and surge of the holiday crowd, drivers should be extra cautious at this time of the year.

Here are some tips to help prevent distracted and impaired driving casualties from happening:

  • Get the right amount of sleep the night before
  • Plan your drive by setting up your GPS unit and audio player before driving out
  • Put away your phone and other electronic devices
  • If there is an emergency, stop at the nearest rest area
  • Keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel as much as possible
  • Avoid engaging in heated conversations with passengers
  • Assign a designated driver if you are expecting to get drunk or high
  • Share the drive with passengers
  • Pull-over in the nearest rest area if you catch yourself falling asleep

However, if you are an aspiring truck driver, you should know that you will bear more responsibilities than a non-commercial vehicle driver. To be a licensed truck driver, you must have the proper education and training before you head out on the road.

Edmonton’s Premier Commercial Truck Driving School

a white Gennaro truck driving down the street

At Gennaro Transport Training, we have all the courses you need to jumpstart your trucking career. And if you are a seasoned truck driver, we also have refresher courses such as our Air Brake Refresher Course and Professional Driver Improvement Course (PDIC) that can equip you to drive in any season.

Contact us today to find out how you can start and further enrich your trucking career.