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Clear Shot: Wading Into the Fray

Would an 18-hour work window for truck drivers pose a significant public safety threat?


Would an 18-hour work window for truck drivers pose a significant public safety threat?

A page one Globe and Mail article, published Nov. 8 would have you believe as much – further damaging the Canadian public’s view of the trucking industry and confusing drivers about how long exactly they’ll be expected to drive.

“Transport Canada is proposing regulations under which truckers could be on the road as long as 18 hours at a stretch, a move those behind the wheel say would lead to driver fatigue and potentially disastrous consequences on the country’s highways,” stated the article, which continued on to cite studies that show fatigue plays a role in as many as 40 per cent of traffic deaths.

Of course, the article had it all wrong. Drivers will certainly never be forced to drive 18 hours in a row.

The proposed 18-hour work window (currently being debated by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators) consisted of the already agreed upon 13 hours of driving, plus one-hour non-driving work time, plus another four hours of off-duty time.

It was a way to provide drivers with the choice of taking additional off-duty time over and above the minimum of 10 hours in a 24-hour period.

It was not, I repeat NOT designed to allow companies to make their drivers drive for longer than 13 hours.

So what was all the fuss about?

The unfounded fear that drivers will be forced to work for longer than they have to or should, becoming a danger to themselves and those who share the road with them.

In fact, the opposite is true. The 18-hour work window would create an extra four hours of off-duty time, during which drivers would be able to take a nap if they needed to.

A driver on a turnaround from Toronto to Montreal who doesn’t feel he or she has the time to take a nap because he or she is afraid the 14-hour working window will be eaten up at the dock is far more dangerous than a driver who feels comfortable taking the nap.

As for those in the industry who feel the 18-hour window will somehow be used by carriers to abuse the rights and health of their drivers, well I guess it depends on who you work for.

But given the fact that drivers are in short supply, I’m surprised that so many of them would put up with that kind of baloney.

Frankly I think assuming they would, when they could easily go work in greener fields elsewhere, is a whole lot of hooey. n

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at iphaneuf@trucknews.com or (416) 510-6896.


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