Several industry issues on Alberta government’s radar

BANFF, Alta. – The Government of Alberta has a full plate when it comes to how to best move forward with several issues facing the province’s trucking industry.

Shaun Hammond, assistant deputy minister of safety policy and engineering for Alberta Transportation, addressed several questions during the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Leadership Conference, including the contentious matter surrounding single wide-base tires.

The Province of Alberta is currently looking at data it received from the AMTA from a single wide-base tire pilot project conducted during the last year with Rosenau Transport and Westcan Bulk Transport.

Hammond said results of the pilot project revealed fuel savings with the use of single tires compared to duals, but there were a couple thorns in the side of possible government acceptance of the single tire under full weights, one being the fact that the City of Calgary has voiced its opposition to the tires being used on its roads.

Hammond said the government would continue work with municipalities on the examination of possible pavement deterioration using single wide-base tires with full weights, something he said was a major concern for pavement engineers, who say paved surfaces are designed to have a 20 year lifecycle, but contend that the number would drop to 19.1 years if single tires with full weight were permitted on Alberta roads.

Alberta Transportation will also begin a dialogue with stakeholders about the implementation of the Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program in the province.

The training program is closely tied to the industry’s efforts to have the government recognize truck driving as a skilled profession under the National Occupational Classification (NOC).

Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) president David Bradley said the MELT program would be the first step in that process and bring the occupation of driving to a more professional level.

Hammond said government must speak with the industry to see what makes sense with regards to MELT, but that there were no roadblocks toward the adoption of a policy.

As for electronic logging devices (ELDs), Carrier Services will soon launch stakeholder consultations on possible regulation, but the province was continuing to monitor progress on the matter at the national level. Hammond said Manitoba has aligned with Alberta on the weight threshold issue, and it appears that B.C. and Saskatchewan will follow.

Tied to ELDs is Alberta’s possible adoption of the federal hours-of-service (HoS), with the provincial government recommending the move to a single HoS framework at that time if it achieves the threshold for ELDs to be increased to 11,794 kgs.

Partners in Compliance (PIC) is another area the provincial government will continue to examine.

“We really need to take a look and identify what PIC will look like in 2025,” said Hammond.

Hammond voiced the need to sit down and figure out what the problems with PIC currently are and perhaps refresh the program’s overall model.

“What PIC allows us to do is go after the bottom 5%-10% of carriers,” Hammond said, admitting that the program could better address many issues around carriers that are repeat offenders when it comes to violations.

Truckers in Alberta looking for a safe place to pull over and rest will soon have more options.

The provincial government is presently looking at potential commercial rest areas within Alberta, and part of that review is to find economically feasible locations along the provincial highway network with ample parking and amenities for food and fuel.

Other initiatives Hammond pointed out during his question and answer with AMTA conference attendees included exploring government rebate programs as part of its climate change efforts, amending the commercial vehicle dimension and weight regulation to include tri-drive trucks and tractors and the completion of the Hwy 43X bypass in Grande Prairie by fall 2018.

A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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