Truck News


The Mission: Safety And Security

Back in 2005, Transport Canada commissioned a series of transportation security overview papers, including one that dealt with the trucking sector. The paper on trucking was prepared by Sam Barone of ...

Back in 2005, Transport Canada commissioned a series of transportation security overview papers, including one that dealt with the trucking sector. The paper on trucking was prepared by Sam Barone of InterVISTAS and was based on industry stakeholder views, including those of the PMTC.

The idea behind the initiative was to assess current and future threats to the industry; what systems were in place to mitigate security threats; and how the trucking industry could be used by terrorists.

Prompted in part by recent discussions with the RCMP and the truck insurance sector about the level of infiltration by the criminal element into the trucking industry, I re-read the 2005 paper. There is a connection I believe between criminal infiltration and national security when it comes to trucking. It may not be a direct connection, but tangentially the two subjects come together at the trucking sector.

In previous articles I described how criminals infiltrate trucking and some of the safeguards that individual trucking companies and shippers have put in place to combat them. This approach -companies effectively doing their own thing -was identified in the 2005 report. That report stated “Some trucking companies… have undertaken security risk assessments and developed best practices, (but) these activities are neither uniform nor widespread.”

That situation seems not to have changed. Some carriers have willingly shared ‘best practices,’ but most are still on their own to develop and implement security procedures. In our view, those best practices could easily be compiled and made accessible to the entire trucking community. Those that have not considered security to any significant degree could certainly use the information, and those that have would likely find information that could be used to improve their efforts.

The potential impact of any coordinated attack on our infrastructure (specifically roads, bridges and border crossings) cannot be overstated. The lifestyle of North Americans depends on an efficient truck transportation system for the delivery of everything that is consumed in business or by its citizens. Disrupting that network for any significant length of time would be devastating.

If you doubt that point of view, consider that within a few years of the Smart Border Declaration of 2001, border crossing times for commercial trucks had increased by over 300%, according to the Coalition for Secure and Trade Efficient Borders, with resulting delays and frustration. And that’s with the entire infrastructure still intact! Just imagine the chaos if, for example, a border bridge were disabled.

The working group that participated in the 2005 report identified and agreed upon five areas of vulnerability in Canada’s transportation systems. These were: HazMat/Dangerous Goods; strategic infrastructure; industry fragmentation; lack of corporate infrastructure with small carriers; and recovery and response planning.

As might have been expected, the most significant potential threat raised was that of a terrorist attack using trucks loaded with hazardous material. That same concern was also raised in my recent discussions with the RCMP. We are not just talking about theft of cargo and its implications, but the potential for serious infrastructure damage and death if trucks are misused by criminals or terrorists.

The prevailing view still seems to be that the greatest exposure faced by trucking is not in domestic activities but on trucks bound of the Canada/US border. Cross-border shipping has of course received much attention in recent years with such security-minded programs as C-TPAT, PIP, FAST and driver checks for those hauling dangerous goods or entering port lands.

But, ironically, because there has been such heavy emphasis on cross-border movements between Canada and the US, we haven’t devoted as much attention to security of domestic transportation.

One exception may be the more proactive approach to the transportation of dangerous goods since 9/11 as evinced by Transport Canada’s activities and those of Quebec specifically.

But generally speaking, the security of our domestic transportation network doesn’t seem to have been a high priority.

Or perhaps the work that has been done has not been given much visibility. If that is the case we wonder why the industry has not been inundated with plans, ideas, suggestions or templates to help carriers and shippers organize their operational security.

But something may be afoot. Part of Transport Canada’s mission is to promote a safe and secure transportation system, and to that end the Surface and Intermodal Security Directorate (SIMS) works to enhance the security of that system.

Fair do’s, SIMS has only been in place for just over one year and so far has concentrated its efforts on rail and urban transit.

SIMS is now preparing to focus attention on a strategy for the security of surface and intermodal sectors.

This strategy will, according to Transport Canada, articulate the vision, mission and mandate of SIMS; prioritize the highest security risks in the surface and intermodal sectors; and outline policy and program priorities for SIMS to address the risks.

Recently Transport Canada announced plans to host a workshop to assess the vulnerability and impacts of various threat scenarios. PMTC will be participating and we are looking forward to helping raise the importance and visibility of domestic transportation security.

-The PMTC is the only national association dedicated to the private trucking community. Address comments to

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