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Most drivers more rested, content with new HoS

Regarding your Letter to the Editor "Let us sleep when we want to, not when some Ottawa drone says so" (May/June issue), as a person who has been involved in the transportation industry for 57 years, ...

Regarding your Letter to the Editor “Let us sleep when we want to, not when some Ottawa drone says so” (May/June issue), as a person who has been involved in the transportation industry for 57 years, mostly as a driver/owner-operator, with experience in both short and long haul, I would have to argue against the sum and substance of the majority of Mr. Rucker’s interpretation of the new Hours of Service and its effect upon the commercial driver… and the unsuspecting public. While it is true that governing bodies may legislate the quantity of time spent in the sleeper berth they are unable to legislate the quality of that time. In other words, if one is unable to sleep, then no amount of lawmaking is going to alter that fact. However, one is unable to refute the effect that the circadian rhythm has on human physiology, which has been proven scientifically, and that 8 hours of solid rest is not a bad idea. By the same token, who could argue that 10 hours of quality off duty time in a 24-hour period is detrimental to one’s well being? The old reality check raises its head once again: Raise your hand if you would rather work longer hours for less money than advocate increasing the rates in order that we in the industry may be rewarded financially in proportion to the service provided. Well, I don’t see too many hands up!

While the lawmakers are tweaking the New HoS, as I understand they are, perhaps they might look at splitting an 8-hour sleeper berth duration, as before, and, in conjunction with the 2-hour deferral or 48-hour averaging, as it is called. Granted this would assist those who have sensitive delivery times on shorter trips such as Toronto-Montreal, and just might help to avoid unnecessary delays and layovers in some instances. While they are at it, perhaps they could chuck the 120-hour/14 day cycle, which no intelligent professional driver in his/her right mind would contemplate using. How this one got past the committee is totally beyond my ability to comprehend. You can work 140 hrs. in 14 days on the 70/7 rule but only 120 hrs. on the 120/14 rule. Go figure!

In my current capacity as a safety & compliance supervisor I have noticed a dramatic drop in driver violations concerning hours since the advent of the new regulations. Most operators will take 10 hours off consecutively, a mixture of sleeper berth and off duty time, and spread their working hours over the other 14 hours. A few will sleep 8 hours (or at least show 8 hours in the sleeper and then take the other 2 hours in increments of no less than half an hour over the next 16.) And those drivers who regularly run across the continent will somehow work in a 36-hour reset at each end of their trip… and everybody’s happy!

I am also surprised that Mr. Rucker would blame increased greenhouse gas emissions, extra fuel costs in idling time or any accident on a set of regulations. Surely the driver has ultimate control over all of these items. It’s the same argument as: Guns kill people. Well, folks, they don’t. People kill people. And how is it that the government is ‘forcing’ drivers to sleep when they say and not when the driver wants to? The driver can sleep whenever he/she feels the urge, as long as he/she abides by the rules. That aspect hasn’t changed. I fail to see the problem here. And as far as tired drivers go, it has been my observation over six months that the majority of drivers I’ve talked with are not only more rested, but also more content, since January 1st of this year.

And now to the real problem!! Let’s get those rates up. Yes, both the freight rates AND the driver/owner-operator compensation for service provided. Truckers ought not to be treated any longer as “poor country cousins”! If the monetary rewards and recreational time-off were adequate, there would be nary a complaint regarding any regulation.

Ed Murdoch

C & E Driver Services

Enderby, BC

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