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



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

Chocolate spill creates sweet hot mess on Arizona highway



This photo provided by the Arizona Department of Public Safety shows the scene of a crash about 11 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona, where a tank trucker’s trailer detached from the truck and rolled on its side on slick pavement, spilling a river of liquid chocolate onto westbound lanes of Interstate 40. (Associated Press: ARIZONA DOT)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Authorities in northern Arizona had a sweet hot mess on their hands after a tank trucker’s trailer detached from the truck and rolled on its side on slick pavement, spilling a river of liquid chocolate onto westbound lanes of Interstate 40.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports the wreck Monday about 11 miles east of Flagstaff required cleanup crews to pour most of the 40,000 gallons of chocolate into the highway median to lighten the damaged tanker so it could be towed away.

This photo shows a worker pouring gallons of chocolate that spilled from an overturned truck at the scene of the wreck about 11 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona. 

The chocolate was liquid because it was being stored in the tanker at 120 degrees

State Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves says there were no injuries. The driver was not cited.

Clean-up crews poured most of the chocolate into the median in order to lighten the trailer’s load and allow a tow truck to haul it away, Graves said.

“The rear of the tanker was badly damaged and we had to make it lighter in order for the tow truck to haul it away,” Graves said.

The roadway was closed for about four hours while the road was cleared. Graves said it was fortunate the incident happened next to an off ramp, allowing officers to divert traffic off the highway.


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The Nation

TCA Names finalists in driver of year competition



Grand prize winners in the driver of the year competition will be announced at TCA’s 81st Annual Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort on Tuesday, March 12 during the annual Awards Banquet. (Courtesy: TCA)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Six professional truck drivers — three company drivers and three owner-operators — have been chosen as finalists in the Truckload Carriers Association’s 2018 Driver of the Year contest.

The six will now compete for the grand prize in each division.

The finalists were selected based on their ability to operate safely on public highways, their efforts to enhance the public image of the trucking industry, and their contributions to the communities in which they live, TCA officials said.

Esach grand prize winner will receive $25,000, while the two runners-up in each division will win $2,500.

Finalists in the Company Driver of the Year competition include:

2018 Company Driver of the Year Contest finalists:

  • Don Lewis of Republic, Missouri, who drives for Wilson Logistics of Springfield, Missouri.
  • David McGowan of Marinette, Wisconsin, who drives for WEL Companies of De Pere, Wisconsin.
  • Ester Nemeth of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, who drives for Bison Transport also of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Finalists in the Owner-Operator of the Year competition include:

  • Danny Jewell of Nebraska City, Nebraska, who is leased to Warren Transport of Waterloo, Iowa.
  • Kevin Kocmich of Litchfield, Minnesota, who is leased to Diamond Transportation System of Racine, Wisconsin.
  • Robert Roth of Coldwater, Ontario, Canada, who is leased to Erb International of New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada.

“Each one of our finalists is exceptional,” said TCA Chairman and Searcy Specialized President Dan Doran. “Regardless of who may take home the grand prize award in March, each driver has made significant contributions to the industry and should be applauded for their efforts as they’re setting the finest example possible.”

Grand prize winners will be announced at TCA’s 81st Annual Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort on Tuesday, March 12 during the annual Awards Banquet.

For more information on the Driver of the Year Contests, please visit










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The Nation

Melton Truck Lines driver Matthew Kendrick named TCA Highway Angel



Matthew Kendrick, shown here with his wife Gabrielle, was named a Highway Angel for assisting occupants of a car that had crashed. (Courtesy: TRUCKLOAD CARRIERS ASSOCIATION)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Matthew Kendrick of Sacramento, California, a professional truck driver for Melton Truck Lines of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for not only shielding crashed vehicles but also assisting occupants that were trapped.

In July, Kendrick was driving in a heavy rain and wind storm near the Pearl River in Mississippi. “I saw that several trucks were starting to break up ahead of me,” he said. “And then I noticed that a tree had come down and crushed two cars in front of me.”

Acting swiftly, Kendrick safely pulled his truck over to block approaching vehicles from the inoperable cars.

Without a moment to spare, he grabbed his tools and quickly ran to check on the occupants.

As he approached the first vehicle, the roof was completely gone. Kendrick noticed additional vehicles approaching the scene. “I told the [drivers] to all put on their lights so that we didn’t have a pile up,” he shared.

Once peering inside the first car, he found a woman and her daughter, both visibly shaken but coherent.

“I assured the passengers that everything was going to be alright, and then used my spotlights to secure the area until law enforcement arrived,” Kendrick said. In the second car, he discovered a man, along with a Bassett Hound.

While awaiting emergency personnel, Kendrick retrieved a soda from his cab as well as dog bones as he has a dog in the truck.

TCA has presented Kendrick with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. Melton Truck Lines, Inc. also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel.



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