I’m getting an increasing number of frustrated calls from drivers who have no place to stop and sleep in Ontario.
The province is overhauling 23 rest areas, and in the meantime they’re blocking off much-needed parking spaces.
So how exactly is a driver supposed to comply with hours-of-service regulations and ensure they get the rest they need while travelling through the province?
The most recent round of rest stop closures affected Dutton, Tilbury and Wooler.
On-road editor Harry Rudolfs makes a regular run between Toronto and Montreal, and he knows first-hand how important the Wooler Hill stop west of Trenton was, especially for drivers making that Montreal run. The parking lot there was always full, he notes.
The stretch between Toronto and Windsor is just as bad.
The few truck stops along the way fill up quickly come nightfall, leaving late arrivers without a spot to park when the music stops playing, usually fairly early in the evening.
Parking on the sides of the 401 is not an option. And good luck finding a municipality that welcomes truck traffic and provides a place to park.
On pg. 23 Ingrid Phaneuf explores the issue of a shameful lack of truck parking in Ontario in more detail.
MTO media liaison Bob Nichols offers this explanation: “The Ministry of Transportation recognizes the need to provide all travellers, including truck drivers, with opportunities to stop and rest during their travel in order to find comfort and fight driver fatigue. Over the next five years, Ontario’s 23 highway service centres along Highways 400 and 401 will be modernized to better serve both commercial and private motorists. In addition, there are numerous privately-operated service areas located at or near interchanges along our freeways that also provide rest opportunities for all travellers.”
That’s well and good, but the modernization of these facilities was poorly-planned.
Did nobody at the MTO give any thought to where truckers would park in the meantime?
Was it really necessary to put up barriers to prevent trucks from using the parking lots while work on the service centres proceeds?
And could the modernization of these facilities not have been staggered to avoid depriving truckers of all their usual options at the same time?
It looks like we have five years of this to look forward to, and that’s assuming the government actually completes a project on time.
Normally, when I get a call from a reader who’s experiencing a problem, I try my best to help them find a solution.
I’ve got no answers for this one. I guess the best you can do is make note of the situation and plan your route accordingly.
Ontario’s becoming a very uninviting place to drive truck.
Let’s hope that in five years, the revamped service centres are damned well worth the wait.