Canadian Manufacturing

Businesses brace for traffic increase

More vehicles on the roads as Canadians insist on commuting to work

TORONTO—It’s coming up to that time of year again―back-to-school. With the return to regular working and school hours, businesses that depend on the roads for deliveries and sales calls should gear up for gridlock.

A new Workopolis survey found September will bring more vehicles on the road as an increasing number of Canadians insist on driving to work despite traffic hassles.

The average worker now spends 42 minutes commuting to and from work each day, the survey found. Of those, 68 per cent drive while another 10 per cent carpool in a vehicle. Only 19 per cent use public transit and even fewer —4 per cent—cycle.

The longest commutes were in urban centres in B.C. and Ontario while Quebecers and Atlantic Canadians spent the least amount of time in their cars.

No matter what city you’re traveling in, grappling with gridlock is a terrible way to start or end your day, says Workopolis president Kelly Dixon.

Dixon says some of Canadians’ road stress could be reduced by allowing employees to work from home more often. But for workers whose jobs involve driving, there’s no escaping the traffic woes.

“September is when we start to see things pick up again, for manufacturing and trucking,” says Jennifer Fox, vice-president of customs and compliance with the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

Fox says they typically see traffic volumes increase again in October and November and that the best defense is being prepared.

“Go back based on past trends and try to anticipate customer needs and volumes,” she says.

Some companies may have the option of making deliveries during the day’s least busy hours.

But even with the right logistics planning, there’s not a whole lot drivers can do.

“The industry has to be flexible to the needs of customers. When the shipper decides to ship, that dictates transportation times. Sometimes you just get a hot load,” she points out.

Fortunately, she says, most professional drivers are used to it.

“Each driver has his or her own tactics to deal with stressful situations on the road, but for the most part, when this is what you do for a living, when you anticipate and plan in advance for the changes, it’s just business as usual,” she says.

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