East Coast driver days ready to roll

by Katy de Vries

SALISBURY, N.B. – Atlantic Canada will very soon see the return of Driver Appreciation Days, which will be held Sept. 25-26, dovetailing nicely with National Trucking Week.

The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) is taking the opportunity during this week to acknowledge truckers and recognize the work they do, by holding an event at the Salisbury Irving Big Stop.

Ralph Boyd, APTA president, says for a couple of years now, they have been holding the appreciation days over a continuous 24-hour period in order to accommodate and identify both day drivers and the night time work force, which has been received extremely well within the industry.

“It’s an opportunity to recognize the front-line foot soldier of the trucking industry – the driver,” says Boyd.

Association members and staff meet drivers and say thank you for a job well done, Boyd says, and it affords volunteers an opportunity to come out and recognize the value of their own employees. It is also a chance for carriers to come out and recognize the driving community in general.

The day promises to include many things for visitors to do, however, one of the most important purposes, says Boyd, is the chance for visitors to exchange information and for the APTA to learn more about drivers’ moods.

Judging from past events, it is expected the East Coast appreciation days will haul in 500 to 600 drivers and with that many different opinions and views, it is sure to set the stage for interesting and productive conversation.

“Everybody within the industry sits at a different vantage point and has a different view of what is happening out there but it is very important to us to ensure that we get these drivers’ views,” Boyd says. “What are the things that are on his mind, what are the things that bother his day, or the things that make his day a good day?”

In the past, truckers have journeyed to the Eastern provinces from places as far away as Texas and the Carolinas, and Boyd says they will welcome anyone and everyone.

“Anyone who wants to visit our site within the truck stop is welcome. We usually have a big tent set up with some comfy chairs so if you want to come by, sit and chat, have a look around and have some discussion, that is what we are there for,” adds Boyd.

There will be plenty of useful information available to drivers, including everything from hours-of-service to safety tips on retaining wheels. As well, it gives the drivers a chance to participate in contests and win something right on the spot.

“Whether it be a jacket, hat or wrench it is something the driver can use himself or in his vehicle. That is what this is all about, we want to focus on the driver and supply him with some recognition for the job he is doing and some materials that will support him in the job that he does on a daily basis,” notes Boyd.

Another attraction of the Driver Appreciation Days is the information about driver health and well being. The Heart and Stroke Foundation and St. John’s Ambulance will be at the event along with extramural nurses for blood sugar testing and providing dietary information.

“A driver days custom,” Boyd explains, “has been to serve refreshments of a healthy nature because drivers are subject always to the food of the truck stop, and wherever possible we would like to look out for the physical condition of the driver, as well.”

Because the APTA represents four provinces, they’ve planned appreciation events, not only in New Brunswick, but in Mount Pearl, Nfld. and at the Borden Carleton scales in P.E.I. The date is yet to be decided for the Newfoundland event and in P.E.I. the recognition event will be held on Sept. 24.

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