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it’s about time

Putting together our annual Decisions Report on issues that will impact carriers in the coming year, it's hard to forget the ominous words of Lana Batts about the impact of new U.S. hours of service (...

Putting together our annual Decisions Report on issues that will impact carriers in the coming year, it’s hard to forget the ominous words of Lana Batts about the impact of new U.S. hours of service (HOS) regulations .

“The strong will survive and the weak won’t. And when I say strong I don’t necessarily mean big. It will be the carriers who are able to calculate and cover their costs accurately who will make it,” Batts warns (see our report on the HOS regulations on page 18). Strong words from someone who has developed a reputation of shooting from the hip. Batts is currently president of a U.S. consulting group and a board member with Mullen Transportation but many in the industry will remember her from her days running the Truckload Carriers Association.

Can adding two hours to the required off-duty break time and reducing total on-duty hours to 14 from 15 really make that much of a difference, particularly for TL carriers?

Similar to Batts’ comments, the feedback from other respected industry individuals and companies is hard to ignore. They all point to the need to add more drivers and trucks to compensate for the reduction in productivity the new rules will create.

At the Hours of Service Productivity Summit held at Georgia Technical Institute in October, delegates said they expected to see productivity decreases for carriers ranging from 2% to 19%. Schneider National figures the new rules – the first significant change to HOS legislation in the U.S. since 1939 – could result in the industry needing to add 120,000 more drivers to compensate for lost productivity. That could prove a hard task for an industry that is used to adding 20,000 drivers a year. In its submission to the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Wal-Mart calculated that its equipment costs attributed to HOS changes in 2004 will amount to $24 million.

Even if the numbers prove to be somewhat inflated, they’re still cause for alarm. Particularly so for the mid-sized and large Canadian carriers who depend on hauls into the U.S. for not only their largest chunk of revenue but for their best source of revenue (it’s the only sector where decent rate increases have been possible the last five years.) And Canadian companies will get an even worse deal if a split sleeper berth provision isn’t included when our own HOS rules kick in next fall.

The American regulations allow the 10-hour off duty requirement to be satisfied by two sleeper berth periods, neither of which may be less than two hours. But the Canadian rules state that drivers must rest for a minimum eight hours at a time, with no sleeper berth splits. The government’s intent is to ensure drivers get enough time to catch a good night’s rest but the rules would also make it difficult for drivers to nap during inefficient driving times such as rush hour unless they are willing to take their full eight hours at that time.

The Canadian Motor Carrier Group Road Safety Directorate is re-considering the sleeper berth provision.

Hopefully common sense will prevail.

I am proud to announce the promotion of Julia Kuzeljevich to the position of managing editor of Motortruck and sister publication Canadian Transportation & Logistics. In this critical position, Julia will be instrumental in the day-to-day operations of the two magazines.

Julia, a KRW award finalist, is a four-year veteran of the commercial transportation media. She began her career in 1999 with Truck News, moving to the post of assistant editor of Motortuck and Canadian Transportation & Logistics in 2000. Over the past four years Julia, a KRW Business Writing Award finalist, has contributed numerous well-researched features on industry issues.

Please join me in congratulating Julia on her new appointment.

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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