Truck News


More Delays for Canadian Hours of Service Regs

OTTAWA, Ont. - The good news is, thanks to your basic provincial/federal legislative set-up, truck drivers won't have to adjust to the new Canadian hours of service regulations for another six months,...

OTTAWA, Ont. – The good news is, thanks to your basic provincial/federal legislative set-up, truck drivers won’t have to adjust to the new Canadian hours of service regulations for another six months, at least until the provinces get around to adopting them in their own jurisdictions.

The bad news is the new U.S. regulations, including a 34-hours reset will be in place in January 2004, long before the newly proposed Canadian HOS, originally slated for implementation at the same time, come into effect.

Whether that’s a problem depends on who you’re talking to.

Delays are par for the course, says Brian Orrbine, chief of the Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation Directorate for Transport Canada’s Motor Carrier Group.

“It takes time for the provinces to pass their own versions of the rules,” Orrbine explained.

“So the delay doesn’t come as a surprise. We would have liked the rules to go through for January, but it won’t create a huge problem if they go through later.”

Carriers and drivers, however, are less philosophical about the delay.

“You’d think a group of grown men and women would be able to put something like this through more quickly,” sighed Dan Einwechter, president of Challenger Motor Freight.

“We’ve been waiting on this for so long. And now we have to wait another six months. If I ran my business the way these so-called public bodies ran theirs, I wouldn’t be in business today.”

Einwechter said the delay will cost his company money, because new drivers will have to be pulled in for training not once for both U.S. and Canadian regulations, but possibly twice, first for the U.S. regulations and then again when the Canadian regulations kick in down the road.

The delay will definitely cause problems for drivers as well, added Pete Turner, spokesman for the Truckers’ Voice lobby group.

“Of course it’s a problem, because the new U.S. hours of service have a reset and the current Canadian rules don’t,” Turner said.

“Drivers will have a heck of a time trying to make their logbooks balance when they drive up here from the States, because we won’t have the 36-hour reset here until June or July 2004, and they’ll have the 34-hour reset to contend with down there.”

Turner is not a fan of resets, or the newly proposed HOS on either side of the border, period.

“Either way, 36 or 34 hours, they reduce the amount of time you have to recover at home,” he said.

“As for the increased hours, they’re just trying to squeeze drivers for all they’re worth, because of the shortage.”

Be that as it may, the new U.S. hours of service drew some applause when they were introduced this spring, for being more similar to Canada’s proposed rules.

“We were pleased to see the new rules are very close to the Canadian ones,” said David Bradley, head of the Ontario Trucking Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

But not close enough for some, who said the new rules weren’t similar enough.

They called for a single set of rules north and south of the border.

“It would be worth the sacrifice in terms of time and money when it comes to training,” said Ron Eadie, general manager of Bell City Transport.

One simple set of rules, not only when it comes to hours of service but also when it comes to border security issues, would be the ideal solution, agreed Bradley.

But he pointed out that in order to bring about that kind of change, the Canadian government would have to get much more involved with U.S. legislators.

“Governments speak to governments,” he pointed out.

Transport Canada officials, for their part, say their involvement is ongoing.

“We have very good channels of communication set up with both the provinces and the U.S.,” said Brian Orrbine, adding his group is still looking at the forty-some submissions they got from industry when they posted the regulations in the Canada Gazette Part 1 in February.

“But it would be inappropriate for me to comment on what the U.S. has decided to do about its own hours of service rules. The only thing I can say is that the new rules bring us closer together.” Of course with this latest delay, the HOS rules getting closer together is just that much farther off.

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