Truck parking in Ontario is woefully inadequate. We all know that. But encouragingly, there’s an effort underway to improve the situation. The province has commissioned a survey to provide insight into the problem, and to highlight specific areas where improvements are required.
The Ontario Truck Drivers’ Survey is being conducted by SPR Associates. It asks, in quite some detail, about parking availability in Southern Ontario, and even about experiences drivers have encountered in specific truck stops.
It can be found and completed at www.SurveyCentral.ca. Let’s be honest, refusing to take the time to complete this survey gives government an easy out – an excuse to do nothing. If the survey fails to receive sufficient response, government can then keep the millions of dollars that are badly needed to improve and add truck parking, and instead do nothing, because they have asked truck drivers for their input and concluded based on the poor response that there’s no issue here.
It would be a mistake to allow that to happen. The survey’s open to all professional drivers who drive in Ontario – you don’t have to live there. Truck parking in Ontario is as big an issue to the longhaul driver based in New Brunswick as it is to the Ontario-based driver, when they share the same routes.
Canada seems to be moving forward – albeit slowly – towards implementing an electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, which will closely mirror that being rolled out in the U.S. this month. One of the most frequent complaints I hear from drivers about the ELD mandate is that Ontario doesn’t have sufficient truck parking available to strictly adhere to the hours-of-service rules, as will be required when all drivers are monitored electronically.
That’s a poor argument, because it admits to knowingly violating hours-of-service regulations. As has been said and written many times, ELDs don’t change the hours-of-service rules, only how they’re monitored and enforced. That said, the impending arrival of an ELD mandate could give government some extra motivation to address the shortage of truck parking. Whatever their motivation, we should welcome the much-needed investment.
The survey also aims to find out how much money truck drivers lose each year looking for a place to park. This question was seemingly inspired by a survey in the U.S., conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute, which found truck drivers suffered US$4,600 in lost wages each year searching for truck parking when they could’ve been logging revenue-generating miles.
That amounts to 56 minutes a day per driver spent looking for parking spots – equal to about 9,300 miles a year that could’ve been spent putting asphalt under the bumper.
That’s an attention-grabbing number, that even government will find difficult to ignore. Whether anything comes from this survey remains to be seen. To borrow a line from Ronald Reagan, I’m always a little suspicious when I hear ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ But not taking this survey could put this issue on the back burner for good, so it is time well spent. A warning: It’s nearly 60 questions in length, so dive in when you have a bit of time to devote. Maybe on one of those rare occasions when you arrive at a truck stop and find a vacant spot sitting there waiting for you.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies