November 3, 2022
Dave Elniski, AMTA Industry Advisor, Safety & Compliance
I recently had a conversation with Harmeet Shoker, the Safety and Compliance Director for Rig Logistics. We discussed a number of topics (mostly sharing our thoughts about what skills and attitudes make someone a professional driver). Both of us started in Canada’s trucking industry as a truck driver – flatbeds for me, vans for him – but our experiences have been dramatically different.
I started driving in Lethbridge, Alberta, a city I’d lived in since Grade 1. He moved to Canada in 2000 from the Punjabi region of India. Unsurprisingly, we both experienced a much different entrance into the industry. Our ideas on what makes a driver a professional were aligned though and similar to what others in the industry say. For example, seeing driving as a profession, not just a task, was a common theme. This came out when discussing all the knowledge a professional driver needs to hold beyond the skills needed to drive safely. Interacting positively with customers, understanding the regulations that apply to their specific vehicle and cargo, knowing how to plan a route and estimate time, and seeing commercial vehicle law enforcement as an ally and not an adversary – these were all expressed.
Harmeet takes his interest in professional driving home with him. He’s active in the Punjabi community where he lives and knows a lot of drivers and carrier owners and managers.
“I want to share within my community because there is a lack of awareness and it is important to share the value of safety and best practices,” he told me.
Harmeet is an advocate for safe trucking practices and takes it upon himself to share his knowledge with others who have a harder time accessing the information due to cultural and language barriers.
“I want to be involved everywhere for the purpose of enhancing the image of the industry and status of drivers,” Harmeet said, making it clear his advocacy is for any person interested in a collaborative approach to improvement. “I don’t want to see drivers judged as being low-skilled and want to see more mentoring for drivers in the industry, so they are able perform better for the benefit of all road users.” I asked him what it is new drivers need the most in their first days of their career. He said, “A friendly welcome.”
Since the above meeting, I’ve reflected not so much on what it means to be a professional driver as what it means to be an ambassador for industry safety. Harmeet has three positive traits that position him well in this space: he’s knowledgeable, visible, and engaged. These traits help him share his experiences and, no doubt, have prevented the reoccurrence of some of his own hard-learned lessons in those coming up behind him.
Interested in engaging with us? Contact AMTA
AMTA can provide carriers and individuals with guidance on information related to safe fleet operations and best practices. If you have any questions, please contact AMTA’s Workplace Support Services (WSS) directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more articles, updates, and information on Alberta’s trucking and busing industries, please sign up for our eNews