Truck drivers welcome new safety regulations

A T-shirt inside a booth at the annual Alberta Big Rig reads, “Trucking is not a job. It’s a lifestyle.” Long-haul driver Al Barker is living it.

Al Barker takes a brief moment to relax in the sun against his rig at the annual Alberta Big Rig event held at Westerner Park over the weekend.

Al Barker takes a brief moment to relax in the sun against his rig at the annual Alberta Big Rig event held at Westerner Park over the weekend.

A T-shirt inside a booth at the annual Alberta Big Rig reads, “Trucking is not a job. It’s a lifestyle.”

Long-haul driver Al Barker is living it.

With 30 years of driving the big rigs under his belt, the Edmonton resident knew from an early age his future was on the road.

Barker’s family lived near a major truck route when he was a young boy. Much of his childhood was spent sitting on the front steps watching the big trucks whizz by.

“It’s something where you either have it in you to do it or you don’t,” says Barker, who drives a 379 Peterbilt semi truck hauling windows in northwest Saskatchewan and in the Kootenay region of British Columbia.

“It’s not a profession where you work in an office and decide one day you want to be trucker.”

Barker was one of many whose big rigs lined the Westerner Park parking lots throughout the weekend.

Organizer Donna White from Pro-Trucker magazine said the show was an opportunity for truckers to share stories and to create a positive trucking image to the public.

The trucking industry has faced challenges in recent years with the escalating fuel costs and the concern of driver fatigue.

Barker welcomed the recently-introduced safety regulations restricting time on the road. Under the Motor Vehicle Act, long-distance truckers must turn off the ignition after 14 hours.

“For many years there were no time limits,” said Barker.

“The shippers and the owners of these companies would lean on you pretty hard because you were in the business to make money.”

Log books helped reduce driver fatigue and the risk of accidents. Some drivers are concerned about losing contract work but Barker is not one of them.

“My attitude is if you can’t do it in 14 hours maybe it’s time to get out,” said Barker.

“And the industry can’t afford to lose guys like me because there is nobody going in. Nobody wants to lead the lifestyle. If I told you were going to eat at A&W 27 times a month, would you want to do it?”

Calgarian Michael Rosenau, of Rosenau Transport Ltd. which has an office in Red Deer, drives freightliners and has been in the industry for more than two decades.

These days Rosenau does mostly city hauling but he did his time on the highway.

“I think everybody is getting on board with the safety issue,” he said.

“I hope it is not just because they have to. It is because of choice. You are only late if you don’t arrive as far as I am concerned. If you got to get some sleep by all means stop and sleep.”

The two-day affair featured Show ‘n Shine, roll-over demonstrations and best lights competitions. This was the 10th show in Alberta. Truckers from British Columbia and Alberta attended.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com