Truck News


Canadian law makers need to reset their thinking

So things are finally moving, the Hours-of-Service proposal that is.The proposal that the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) has been working on for so long has finally gone to...

DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer
DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer

So things are finally moving, the Hours-of-Service proposal that is.

The proposal that the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) has been working on for so long has finally gone to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations.

I, along with others including the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), find this encouraging. However, I am still troubled by some aspects of the proposal and the discussion surrounding it. I have argued against any reset provision on numerous occasions, and I also question the “science” used to establish the guidelines for such a provision.

Yet I feel compelled to once again climb up on a stack of Truck News and attempt to discourage any provision for a reset – of any sort.

In particular, I take a strong opposition to the fact the proposal, as it was presented to the House Committee, does not allow a driver to work more than 70 hours in a week without taking 36 hours off. Like many ideas conceived in a wood panelled room they may seem intelligent, but I assure you that the real world application of a 36-hour reset will be nothing but disastrous.

If I were to run a standard trip from Vancouver to Montreal and return, I would be wasting considerable time somewhere I don’t want to be with a relatively “hot” load on my trailer.

Allow me to elaborate.

I leave Vancouver and after approximately 45 hours of legal time behind the wheel, I arrive in Montreal. Due to the state of the industry and the need for extra revenue I spend a day and a half or roughly 15 hours running around the greater Montreal area doing three deliveries and four pick-ups, the last one being in Cornwall, Ont.

I proceed west, eager to get home and satisfy my customers who expect timely service, but oh-no, wait, I can only travel 10 hours before I need to stop. (Bear in mind this is after having a couple nights of good rest in Montreal).

Let’s see, 10 hours from Montreal, eh? Why, that’s right around the Kapuskasing area. I would be required by law to spend the next 36 hours off-duty kicking around Kapuskasing.

No offence to any residents of this fine small town, but there is no truck driver in their right mind who would spend 36 hours in Kapuskasing; or Pokiok, N.B.; or Fort Providence, N.W.T.; or Dunmore, Alta. Unless of course that’s where they call home.

Which is exactly the point. I do not. In many cases, I refuse to spend time sitting around while on the road – with the exception of waiting for freight, of course.

I think it’s safe to say most of my fellow drivers are of the same opinion. The only reason we’re in that truck is to work, not have nice day-and-a-half in the Kap.

The CCMTA assumes that by increasing the rest period they are reducing the workload. This is highly unlikely, the workload will stay the same (if not increase due to current economic pressures) and the available time to complete one’s job will decrease. I, as an owner/operator, will still be expected to make my appointment times, regardless.

The government is totally naive if they honestly expect this provision to be upheld. The only thing a 36-hour reset would do is motivate drivers to re-write their comic book and get on with the job. Since so few drivers actually respect H-o-S regulations to begin with, this will most certainly be the case.

If truck drivers do not agree with or respect the law then the various enforcement and regulatory regimes are being quite arrogant if they expect drivers to uphold it simply because they say so.

If professional drivers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, N.W.T. and the Yukon are permitted to run intra-provincially 15 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year, why the hell can’t I run 14 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year, inter-provincially?

I’m also disappointed with the CTA. Of all organizations at the table, the CTA should know better than to promote such a foolish item as a 36-hour reset.

I also have to question the science that this proposal was based on. I’ll quote a few sentences from the actual Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours-of-Service in Canada – Proposed Revisions.

“At this time, conclusive scientific results most pertinent to the cycle/caps issue are not readily available.” I’m assuming that the idea of re-sets falls into that category also. Here’s another quote for you to chew on.

“There is a general lack of data and knowledge on the details of Hours-of-Service practices of drivers.”

So the CCMTA is proposing a major change to both our lives and our livelihoods, without any substantial research or conclusive evidence that fatigue among professional drivers is even a problem?

If indeed this is the case, I had better see some public forums soon that are well advertised and held from coast-to-coast. Because changing the H-o-S regulations will drastically affect the largest industry in Canada and change the way you and I do business. n

– Dave Holleman is an over-the-road owner/operator and a monthly contributor to Truck News.

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