Highway safety is everyone’s business, and for those whose businesses involve moving people and products throughout our province on a daily basis, transportation comes with even greater risks and responsibilities.
When you consider there are over 25,000 carriers on Alberta highways and the variety of activities, conditions, and demands in their day, there is no question that safety is a complex and ever-changing issue.
And it is an issue that must be a priority for not only carriers, but also shippers.
The introduction of mandatory entry-level training (MELT) on the heels of the devastating Humboldt bus crash is just one example of critical changes that need to be made to ensure improved safety and manage liability.
Another important program that continues to bolster industry standards is Partners in Compliance (PIC). Since 1995, PIC has been the leading safety management program that provides transportation companies specific guidelines, management practices, training objectives, and performance monitoring; pushing standards to a true level of excellence.
While this volunteer program is in a league of its own for carriers and requires ongoing commitment and reporting, it is attention worthy for shippers as well.
The reason being is that more organizations and municipalities are recognizing PIC and requiring their suppliers and service contractors have the designation. Carriers that are truly dedicated to safety and are active members of the PIC program are now being sought out and will have a competitive advantage for the time being.
Suncor and the Rocky View Schools division are two examples of organizations that are reinforcing their commitment to safety by now specifically requiring vendors to hold a current PIC designation.
Andrew Barnes, our director of compliance and regulatory affairs, anticipates that with changes such as this, shippers are going to feel increased pressure to understand their responsibilities for engaging qualified and reputable carriers who also have an active PIC membership.
As an association dedicated to safety and training for the transportation industry, we are encouraged by this change. Establishing PIC as a business partner standard, including shippers, should be a matter of due diligence and an important part of vetting trucking companies before they even schedule to pick up a load.
We see great opportunity for current members of PIC and commend them for their proactive engagement in this program. As active members, they are advocating for excellence in safety, promoting the value and benefits of the program, and providing peace of mind to their customers.
While it would be ideal for PIC to one day become a national standard, for now we are seeing matters continuing to move in a positive direction.
When you see the PIC logo on a truck or school bus, you can be confident in the training, maintenance, and priorities of that organization and that they are committed to safety; and especially the precious people they transport and those they drive amongst.
Chris Nash is president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association. He has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry, from the road to the boardroom. Chris was born, raised and still lives in Edmonton with his family.