Give us a break: Coffee controversy points to bigger problem for truckers

A transport truck operator from Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula says people need to understand that drivers need to take breaks for food and rest, but there aren't many businesses with enough room for them to park. 

"Where do we park? Where do we go in and get coffee, where do we go and get a lunch? Nobody wants us around but yet everybody wants the product, but they don't want to see the truckers," trucker Shawn Hughes told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show.

Port aux Basques mayor Todd Strickland raised concerns this week about the safety hazards created when truckers pull over on the highway and walk across the busy road to get to Tim Hortons.

-     Coffee-loving truckers posing safety risk, says Port aux Basques mayor

"I mean, I guess in a way it does present some kind of safety risk, but it comes back to ... what else are we supposed to do?" said Hughes, a trucker from Bartlett's Harbour who does trips from Newfoundland to the Maritimes every week.

"If a trucker got to stop for a drink, or a coffee, or lunch, there's few places in Newfoundland where we can stop properly, and most drivers there do the best job they can, and get over as far as they can."

Hughes said many drivers like to stop at the Tim Hortons after getting off the ferry because it's the only place where they're guaranteed to get a hot drink and a fresh bite to eat until Steady Brook, which can be up to a three-hour drive away.    

He said there is an Irving station about an hour away at Crabbes River, but it only has a sit down restaurant and isn't always open.

Parking isn't an issue just in Port aux Basques. Hughes said truckers encounter the same problem all across the island because not many businesses have room for 18-wheelers, and those that do don't want truckers taking up space. 

Other provinces set example

Hughes said many other vehicles make illegal left-hand turns to cross the highway to get to the Tim Horton's in Port aux Basques, but the finger is always pointed at truckers, and their frustration is growing.

"It's the way we're being treated as a menace on the road, truckers are always getting the blame for problems," said Hughes.

He said people need to realize that transport trucks need extra space, and there just aren't enough safe places to park. 

"Out in Alberta they actually have pull-offs on the side of the road just for truckers, rest spots every couple of hours, or every hour, there's a pull-off that 20 or 30 trucks can just pull in and have a rest."

"Newfoundland got none of that."

Looming predicament

Hughes said upcoming electronic logging regulations requiring drivers to stop after a certain amount of time behind the wheel will make the situation for truckers in Newfoundland and Labrador even worse.

"There's nowhere to park, and yet electronic logs is going to tell them they got to park, if not, they're in violation. It's going to be an issue ... when all these rules come into place and there's nowhere for truckers to park."