EDMONTON, Alta. – Provincial rules in Alberta governing the hours commercial drivers can operate will not be changing to coincide with new federal rules that come into effect on January 1, 2007.
The Federal Hours-of-Service rules take effect Jan. 1, 2007. The Transport Canada federal Commercial Vehicle Drivers’ Hours-of-Service Regulation, which governs commercial motor carriers that operate inter-provincially, will further limit the number of hours a commercial driver can operate in a day.
Despite this change in the federal regulation, the Alberta government will not be making any changes at this time to the provincial Drivers’ Hours-of-Service Regulation, which governs carriers that operate solely within Alberta.
Alberta will continue to operate under current rules until a new regulation is developed following further consultation with industry stakeholders.
“The province encourages a collaborative approach to developing government policy and regulations,” said Ty Lund, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation.
“To ensure proposed changes to Alberta’s commercial hours of service regulation meet the need to manage driver fatigue and the operational needs of operators, additional consultation with industry is necessary.”
The new federal rules will reduce the maximum driving time for commercial drivers from 16 to 13 hours in a 24-hour period, reduce the daily maximum on-duty time from 16 to 14 hours, and increase the minimum off-duty time from eight to 10 hours.
The current provincial rules limit driving time to 16 hours in a 24-hour period and on-duty time to 16 hours a day, and require a minimum of eight hours off-duty time.
All provinces including Alberta will be employing a six-month education enforcement period to provide an opportunity for drivers and carriers to learn the new federal rules and adjust their operations accordingly.
The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) expressed shock and disappointment at the province’s decision not to adopt the new HoS rules beginning in January.
Henry VanSteenbergen, president, Legal Freight Services and president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association responded in writing to the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation expressing the organization’s extreme disappointment over the Alberta government’s position.
“The recently announced decision to isolate this province with unique, non-standard Hours-of-Service regulations, has placed Alberta businesses in the difficult situation of having to deal with two very different sets of rules for provincially and federally regulated carriers and has created a distinct disadvantage for federally regulated carriers in Alberta to compete in their operations within the province,” he said.
Mayne Root, executive director of the AMTA, described the 15-year consultative process to develop the new rules as “long and arduous” and involved many organizations.
“Everyone was well aware of the difficulties involved in developing a set of standards and regulations that best fit all aspects and sectors of the highway transportation industry, but they were also aware of the need to address existing standards and practices that are adversely affecting drivers, their families, and safety on the highways,” he said.
“These standards and practices have also had a huge detrimental effect on the attrition of drivers from the industry and the ability to attract new people to this occupation which is vital to the economic well being of our province and nation.
“It also forces the enforcement community to have to interpret and apply all of the complexities of two sets of legislation,” Root continued.
“This places the drivers, carriers and enforcement officers in a very difficult and confusing position in their attempts to insure compliance.”
Root said it’s critical for Alberta’s government to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
“The AMTA and its members offer our services and support to get it done,” he said.
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