It’s good news that three new truck stops will be constructed in Alberta, potentially four with a privately-funded location along Hwy 2 near Bowden.
I’m not sure how these things are budgeted for, but $20 million for three brand new, fully-equipped rest stops seems like a bargain to me.
You always hear about Canada’s lack of rest stops for truck drivers compared to the U.S.
Doing a quick Google search of truck stops in Alberta, quite a few pop up, but I’m leery about what is classified as a truck stop. I don’t know what each is like, but one truck stop on the list is in the town I live just outside of Calgary, and I know for a fact that the cardlock location has nothing more than fuel pumps…no washroom, no food, nothing. Chances are quite a few on the list are similar.
I know it’s not easy to find a large enough piece of land sitting empty on the side of the highway where a truck stop can be built. The land is owned by somebody, either privately or publicly, and deciding to construct a truck stop takes clearing a few hurdles.
But there are so many reasons why more truck stops are needed across Canada.
Safety is one. With an ELD mandate coming soon, drivers will need a safe place to pull over and sleep, eat, and do other things all human beings must do. ELDs really don’t make this need any more important – HOS regulations are not changing, so drivers should have always had to stop for rest, but with a lack of infrastructure, is it any wonder some drivers just carried on down the highway until they did find a suitable location to stop?
The safety issue is not only for truck drivers, but also everyday motorists. Having trucks pulled over to the side of the road to adhere to HOS regulations is a hazard to anyone on the highway. I don’t think police would advise Joe Blow and his family to pull over to the shoulder of the Trans-Canada Highway and take a snooze. They would tell them to stop at the next safe location to get some rest. That should not be any different for commercial drivers, but they need safe rest stops to follow this concept.
Safe, equipped rest stops will also help attract more quality drivers into an industry that desperately needs them.
I love road trips, and I love stopping at restaurants and other places along the way. What I would not like would be stopping in the middle of nowhere every night and not having access to a washroom, food, or a sense of being safe.
I am writing this column on International Women’s Day, which begs the question, why would a woman want to drive truck if they are not provided with safe rest areas with services?
If we are to attract more female drivers, rest areas are vital.
Finally, rest stops are good for the economy. They create jobs when being built, and once complete, they provide business opportunities for food vendors, convenience stores, and other services. And because rest areas should be located in more remote locations between major city centers, the business opportunities are available to those in smaller communities, which help employ those residing in more rural areas.