Plow operators working 20-hour days

Some snowplow operators in western P.E.I. are working 20-hour days, and there are no provincial regulations to prevent them from spending that many hours on the road.

Some snowplow operators in western P.E.I. are working 20-hour days, and there are no provincial regulations to prevent them from spending that many hours on the road.

Storms that have hit the Island once or twice a week since New Year's have been especially hard on West Prince.

"We still only have one lane traffic in some areas," said Owen MacArthur, a shop foreman at Matthews Lime, a snowplow contractor in O'Leary. That was before another storm hit the province Monday night.

Snowplow operators are struggling to clear the roads in West Prince. ((CBC))

"You've got to get the roads open. You gotta do what you gotta do."

Unlike truck drivers, who are limited to 13 hours of driving a day, there are no rules about how many hours a plow driver can be on the road.

MacArthur said he's often operated a plow for 20 hours.

"I don't find 20 hours too bad myself.  Take a break, have a coffee. Stop at the store, grab a pop," said MacArthur.

"The guys, they all live on their routes so they'll slide in home, kiss the wife, have a coffee, have a nap in the chair and continue on."

Even before Monday's storm, many roads in West Prince were still one lane. ((CBC))

Doug MacEwen, safety coordinator with Highway Safety, said while there is no legislation, provincial snowplow operators are limited to 12 hours a day. MacEwen said most private contractors tend follow suit.

"If we hear that there was somebody driving 20 hours, I mean the obvious thing that we could do is have a little interview with the contractor," he said.

MacEwen has never heard of an accident on P.E.I. involving a snowplow driver suffering from fatigue.