A group of professional drivers in British Columbia wants to be the bridge that connects the government with truckers.
Harmeet Singh Nijher, treasurer of the West Coast Trucking Association (WCTA), said decision-makers could obtain useful information on what truckers see and experience as they drive through different parts of the province.
The association was formed in May 2021 and has 350 drivers and owner operators as members.
Nijher said the major problems truckers face include shortage of rest areas to safely park and sleep, difficulty in accessing clean washrooms, lack of parking spots to pick up food from restaurants, and potholes on roads that damage equipment.
WCTA general secretary Ajay Singh Toor urged the federal government to step in and help truckers by building rest areas in B.C. “They called us heroes a couple of years ago and were thanking us, now other road users cut us off and abuse us,” he said.
Toor said when a driver hauls a load to Calgary, AB, for example, seven to eight hours of the drive is through B.C. At least four rest areas each – east-bound and west-bound are needed along that route, he said.
Drivers are allowed to park their trucks at gas stations if they buy fuel there. Toor said drivers are woken up after sleeping for a few hours and asked to move if they haven’t bought fuel and parked there. When electronic logbook violations occur, the driver is responsible.
Nijher said there is an urgent need to update washrooms, especially at remote locations. The ones available must be cleaned regularly and have running water.
He said many towns along highways do not welcome trucks although most of their goods are delivered by commercial vehicles. Drivers are ticketed if they park along the road to grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat from a restaurant.
The rise in e-commerce has applied additional pressure on drivers. Fleets have delivery commitments and try to move their freight as quickly as possible. Drivers face delays due to traffic and construction, and must comply with ELD requirements and speed limits. “How do you drive safely if you are pressured to deliver on time?” Nijher asked.
The WCTA is not interested in strikes and rallies, Nijher said. The association aims to use dialogue and communication to stress its concerns. Toor said truckers have payments to make and if a vehicle sits idle and work stops, bills cannot be paid.
WCTA officials said they will continue to hold discussions with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement, and regional contractors who are responsible for maintaining highways to help resolve the challenges faced by truck drivers and other road users.