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New Year, New Rules for Time Management

CALGARY, Alta. - It has been more than three decades since Bob Dylan's The Times They are A-Changin' debuted, but the aptly titled song may strike a chord in the new year as the transportation industr...


DISSIDENT?: Alberta truckers are having trouble coming to terms with the new federal Hours-of-Service rules so the province won't enforce them as of Jan. 1.

DISSIDENT?: Alberta truckers are having trouble coming to terms with the new federal Hours-of-Service rules so the province won't enforce them as of Jan. 1.


CALGARY, Alta. – It has been more than three decades since Bob Dylan’s The Times They are A-Changin’ debuted, but the aptly titled song may strike a chord in the new year as the transportation industry adjusts to new hours-of-service legislation.

Already, implementation of the new rules have hit a snafu, with the Alberta government claiming more consultation is required before enforcing the new regime.

As Truck News went to press, the Alberta government announced more consultation was required before committing to the new federal Hours-of-Service.

The province announced it 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 regulations meet the need to manage driver fatigue and the operational needs of operators, additional consultation with industry is necessary.”

However, just prior to that announcement, the province hosted an information session on the new rules – as they are written today.

The current provincial rules in Alberta 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.

Although all professionals commandeering a commercial vehicle will be subject to the reduced hours of work, carrying a logbook is still only a longhaul requirement. A driver is exempt from carrying a logbook provided the driver stays within a 160 km radius and returns home every day.

In the absence of a logbook, it is the carrier’s responsibility to keep accurate records of start time, finish time, driving time, non-driving time and all other rules under the HoS legislation. Records are also required to be kept for at least six months.

“The 160 km radius is not an exemption from the regulations; it’s only an exemption from carrying a daily log,” said Kim Durdle, director of carrier services with Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation. “The comments I’ve heard are, with all this detail required I might as well have my drivers carry a logbook.”

Durdle was speaking at an information session hosted by Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation in Calgary on Oct. 18. With the new rules just around the corner, the provincial department scheduled a series of seminars across the province during a two-week span to answer any lingering questions. Similar sessions have also been held in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba throughout the latter months of 2006, as the provincial trucking associations team up with their respective provincial governments in an effort to help drivers and fleets better understand the new rules.

In Calgary, about 200 people filled a conference room to hear the breakdown of the new rules and enquire about operation-specific scenarios.

In oil-rich Alberta, there will still be a permit available to oilfield operations excluding them from the hours-of-service regulations. Reception of the permit is still subject to application and the wording in the oilfield exemption has changed slightly.

“The permit still exempts the driver from accumulation of miles, but there must be three periods of 24-hours off-duty every 24 days,” explained Durdle. “Waiting and standby times will be treated the same, but will be included in the 16-hour timeclock.”

Farmers will still enjoy an exemption from hours-of-service rules under the new regulations, in regards to two- and three-axle vehicles. Exemptions can also be made during times of emergency, like forest fires, but no special certifications are issued. During emergency times, Durdle suggested checking in with Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation before disregarding the rules. In those situations, she said her department will usually issue an operator a letter explaining the exemption, should a carrier be stopped by law enforcement.

A few exemptions aside, the new rules will reduce driving time from 16 to 13 hours in a 24-hour period and reduce daily on-duty time from 16 to 14 hours. As well minimum off-duty time will be increased from eight to 10 hours.

“The whole purpose is to address driver fatigue,” said Durdle.

After decades of research into driver fatigue, numerous associations, lobbyists and government brass on both sides of the border have decided that if you make your living behind the wheel, you have to adhere to specific hours-of-service regulations as not to be a safety hazard.

Drivers will have the option of two different cumulative driving cycles, either 70 hours in seven days or 120 hours in 14 days. In both cycles the ‘day’ is specified by a 24-hour period and must remain consistent throughout the cycle.

“Whether it’s midnight to midnight or 2 a.m. to 2 a.m., it does not mean the start of a work shift,” explained Durdle. “The day doesn’t have to be the same for every driver and the shift does not have to be the same for every driver. What you need at the top of the log is a start time for each driver and the cycle the driver is operating under.”

Drivers will be required to carry at least 14 days of logs regardless of the cycle and a mandatory 24 hours off is required preceding every 14 days. To reset and set hours back to zero, a driver needs to take 36 consecutive hours off for the opportunity to have two good nights’ rest.

The new federal rules will apply to any trucking operation that operates vehicles outside of its provincial borders.

“If you have one operation and just one truck in your operation is conducting business outside the province then the entire fleet is an extra-provincial carrier. It’s not defined per vehicle; it’s defined by the business,” commented Durdle.

To make sure all strictly provincial carriers fall under compliance, Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation will have the provincial government adopt pretty much the same set of legislation as the federal rules.

“The plan is to implement the new regulations on Jan. 1, 2007. From a provincial perspective, right across the country the provinces will implement the same rule, primarily for harmonization,” Durdle said at the time.

There is one difference however in Alberta and it relates to the size of the truck. Federally, the legislation applies to all trucks registered for more than 4,500 kg; while in Alberta the rules will apply to trucks with a registered weight of 11,794 kg or more.

In a province where economic success is measured by size and large trucks are the norm for personal vehicles, the smaller truck weight of the federal rules could pose a wrinkle for extra-provincial carriers. A brand new rule in the HoS legislation will allow drivers to operate commercial vehicles for personal use during off-duty time provided they travel at the most 75 km. So, if a driver lives farther than 75 km from the terminal and is using a company vehicle to drive home that weighs more than 4,500 kg (a Ford F-350 or a Dodge RAM 3500, just to name two) it must be logged as on-duty time.

Compliance to the new hours-of-service rules will be the responsibility of motor carriers, shippers and consignees to make sure a driver does not drive if fatigued.

“That puts the onus now on everyone involved and not just the driver. Motor carriers are required to monitor each driver’s compliance,” said Durdle. “We don’t expect shippers to check every driver, but encourage them to look at a carrier’s safety record before hiring them. We’d like for shippers to ask if the carrier has its programs in place and that somebody is monitoring that compliance is in place. It’s not every time a roadside ticket is issued that it goes back to the shipper.”

Come the new year all parties will be expected to be in compliance, but Durdle insists it won’t mean enforcement officials will be out looking to hand out tickets for drivers in offence of the new rules.

“W
e’ve been talking about a period of educational enforcement. Our officers won’t be out ticketing everyone they can find and we’ll help drivers in violation get home somehow,” she explained. “We don’t expect everything to be perfect by Jan. 1. We realize there will be lots of different scenarios that will have to be looked at.”


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