Ontario’s new hours of service regulations (HTA Regulation 555/06) became effective on January 1 of this year.
The major changes of course involve:
* 10 hours of rest rather than 8
* Maximum daily on-duty time of 14 hours from 16
* Reducing maximum daily drive time from 16 to 13
* Cycle reset after 36 consecutive hours off-duty
For the most part, it is my sense that the industry is generally satisfied with the new regulations, if only because it brings Ontario more in line with the US. And there is particular appeal with the reset provisions.
While the major changes are indeed major departures from the old regulation, there are a number of other changes that while “minor” in the sense they are not part of the sweeping changes to hours on duty or rest periods, they are nonetheless significant changes. I have focused on several of these modifications in order of the Regulation.
Definitions: “Supporting document” includes a major change from the previous regulation, being any recorded and stored by any means, BUT, “that could be used to determine compliance with the regulation”. This will mean in effect that if the officer/auditor figures that payroll records, satellite report etc. could be used to determine compliance, then those records are fair game.
Duty Status Time: There are significant changes under this section, specifying certain activities that are on-duty that could have been recorded as off-duty under the previous regulation. There are two activities that will serve to eat up on-duty time. These include: waiting for a commercial motor vehicle or its load to be inspected; and waiting at an en-route point because of an accident or other unplanned occurrence or situation.
No doubt under the old regulation these activities could have been recorded as off-duty. And it would still strike me that if the driver were in the sleeper berth for part of or the duration of either, that he could record it as off-duty. The ability to record driving time as personal has been added with provisions, namely not more than 75 clicks per day, with other requirements such as having no commercial purpose, unloaded and unhitched, and that the personal use aspect and kms are recorded.
Sleeper Berths: Some interesting requirements in this new section, specifying dimensions, shape, comfort factors, and even minimum mattress thickness, but none of which I expect your basic sleeper unit wouldn’t meet.
Cycle Requirements: The 8-day cycle is history with the 7 and 14 days cycles being the two available options. However, the driver must elect and note which cycle he or she is working on. The ability to switch back and forth has been removed. It is also noted that the ability to reduce the required off-duty period by 4 hours under the old regulation is also gone. And a good thing in my view. It enabled drivers to drive 13, take 4 hours off and run another 13, for a total or 26 hours in 30.
Contents of Daily Log: It appears that “unit number” is no longer a valid identifier. Instead, the number plate of each commercial motor vehicle must be entered on the driver’s log.
Documents Forwarded to Operator: First, “supporting document” is as defined in the definitions in the beginning of the Regulation. The big change in this section is the obligation placed on the operator to ensure that the driver is forwarding supporting documents.
Retention of Documents: All daily logs and supporting documents must now be kept in chronological order. While the “shoebox” was never the norm nor even advisable under the old regulation, maintaining sloppy records was not an offence in itself.
Operator to Monitor Driver Compliance: Due diligence by the operator is clearly required under the new regulation, including the monitoring of compliance, details of non-compliance, and a record of action taken in the event of non-compliance.
No doubt there will be considerable “interpretation” as time goes on with respect to specifics, definitions, meanings etc. That’s always the fun part. There will apparently be a considerable “education” period permitted to allow time for both the industry and drivers to adjust to the changes. For those already running stateside, this won’t be difficult.
My own guess with respect to impact, there will be little change, regarding highway safety that could be directly linked to driver hours of work. We should enjoy though a greater degree of consistency having at least moved towards a similar regulatory environment to that of the United States.
Blair Gough is a consultant to the trucking industry and can be reached at 905-689-2727.