Everybody wants what’s on the Truck, but nobody wants the Truck parking anywhere

Photo: “A road less travelled” by Mike Murchison

by Mike Murchison

In my last article I discussed the federal government’s desire to start levying fines on drivers for violating the Hours-of-Service rules (HOS). Now I’m not an expert on what branch of government handles what and how they work together. Nor do I know the intricate details of how our tax dollars once collected get dispersed once they are collected. But I do have some ideas I’d like to offer on how drivers can comply with the HOS rules and how the different branches of government can help.

We have established that there is a shortage of rest areas, safe havens and just plain acceptable places for drivers to pull into to take their breaks and rest areas.

Many drivers will utililize a truck stop to comply with the HOS without giving a second thought that they are utilizing the property of a business without spending a dime at that business. Leaving the proprietor on the short end of the stick because the driver just borrowed’ a piece of real estate. In other words, I’m parking my car in your driveway to sleep for 8 hours.

Add to that not all drivers practice good hygiene and trash disposal practices. Not to mention damage to asphalt during Spring by the weight of the trucks and the ruts the drive tires leave in gravel parking lots.  leaving the proprietor to deal with the mess and cost. Hold that thought.

Provinces are already dealing with debt, budget shortages, healthcare crisis and I would suspect having to buy land from farmers or landholders to build a parking lot isn’t on the top of their list.

Municipalities, I’m sure, do not want truck parking going on in their neighborhoods. Trucks are already and have been parking on commercially zoned side streets now that usually are lined with “No Parking” signs.

Often law enforcement will cut the Trucker slack during the wee hours of the morning but will start chasing them out come morning rush hour. Can you see a pattern developing here:

Everyone wants what’s on the truck, but no one wants the truck parking anywhere.

governments transportation revenue accounts. Those funds were used for highway and infrastructure works and improvements. 

The Mulroney government changed all that and started putting those fuel tax dollars into what are known as general revenue accounts to use as it saw fit. That move was akin to selling the cow but still expecting the farm to deliver the milk.

From my viewpoint, this is where the problems with highway upkeep fell apart and any attempt by any branch of government would be astronomical in respect to building projects.

So where do we go from here? The simplest route is to stop buying things you want and just buy what you need. But that won’t happen any time soon.

Partnerships are the answer. Partnerships between government, industry, private sector and if so desired First Nations bands.

So, the government at all levels doesn’t want to be in the parking business. Investors don’t want to build truck stops that lose money and First Nations bands want a source of income that can be derived from respectable, tangible sources that will benefit their communities.

There is lots of Crown Land up in Northern Ontario, Quebec and other provinces and there is First Nations land bordering federal, provincial and municipal highways.

If the feds could give thought to sending less dollars overseas in bad investment deals to shore up trade that only benefits the recipient of those dollars and put it back into developing what I like to call the “Rest Easy Safety Development Project” .Including in the project First Nations bands , land owners, municipalities and provinces  and service providers that want to participate, we could see a win-win scenario play out.

Jobs are created by way of construction, food and convenience services as well as utilities and disposal services all developed in communities across the country and accomplishing the goal of complying with the HOS, providing safe havens, rest areas for drivers which will in the long run help ensure proper rest which could lead to better health. Go figure!

I’m sure that in my little fairy-dust sprinkled scenario there are mountains of paperwork, discussions, pros and cons,” what ifs” and possible maybies.

The government works along side with trucking companies to develop immigration policies to fast-track immigrants into the industry to fill the vacant positions in the drivers’ seats. Surely governments can work together to find a solution and more, a willingness to make our highways safer for those out there doing a very stressful and difficult job.

It’s not only the Truck driver who wants to get home safely to his family and as well, have the tools to execute his job safely. One of those tools is a safe place to rest. But its, also the motorist they share the road with who want to have some assurance that that driver isnt fatigued to the point his abilities are compromised. 

I have been in that position a few times: behind the wheel on some lonely stretch of highway out in the Prairies. Up in the dead of Winter in Northern Ontario just looking… looking for a place to pull over to sleep.

I can assure you it is a sickening and discouraging feeling when the few truck stops that are there are full, and you have to keep moving on to the next little town. Hoping that if you do find a spot, its a safe place for not only yourself but the guy coming down the road who may rearend you if your tail is sticking out off the shoulder.

The world is a busy place. But from where I stand, I think this discussion is long overdue.