OTA seminar examines new regs

by James Menzies

TORONTO, Ont. – With new Hours-of-Service rules being approved in the weeks leading up to Truck World 2002, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) took the opportunity to help drivers better understand the new regime.

Several information sessions were dedicated to the hot topic of discussion, and OTA vice-president, Barrie Montague shared some insight on how the new rules will affect drivers.

The OTA has been supportive of the new rules that were recently accepted by government, and Montague says while the changes aren’t perfect, they are better than the old rules.

The changes stem from the fact the previous regime was based on the U.S. rules created in 1937, with little or no scientific knowledge to back them up.

“The world is a different place today than it was in 1937,” says Montague, noting trucks were rarely used for long-haul applications back then.

The former regime allowed some truckers to slip through loopholes enabling them to put in an unsafe amount of time behind the wheel, and Montague says the new rules will go a long way towards eliminating this problem.

At the same time, it will help take the bullet out of CRASH’s gun (CRASH is the railway-funded lobby group aimed at publicly tarnishing the trucking industry’s public image).

The key factors of the new rules include: a 14/10 cycle with 10-hours off-duty for every 14 worked; a maximum of 13 driving hours per day; a minimum of eight hours of continuous off-duty time; and the allowance of only two cycles – 70/7 or 120/14 – with no cycle switching allowed mid-cycle.

The new regs also include a voluntary 36-hour reset allowing truckers to start with a clean slate after spending 36 continuous hours off-duty.

The new rule garnering the most criticism from truck drivers at the seminar was the mandatory continuous rest provision.

“That is going to be the biggest operational hassle,” says Montague.

He predicts this rule will bring about a change in the way shippers do business and will require better planning on the part of shippers and carriers.

“It’s going to make shipping companies do something differently,” says Montague.

There may be some resistance to this rule as shippers realize they can’t snap a driver out of his sleeper to unload at their beckon call.

A case in point would be a trucker who delivers a load to a warehouse at the pre-arranged time of 6 a.m. and then realizes nobody is there to accept it until 8 a.m.

While previously a driver would often consider sleeping for two hours (which would count towards their rest-time) this would no longer be the case.

The driver would be faced with either sleeping for two hours (which is unproductive time for the carrier and the driver since this would no longer count as off-duty time) or sleep for eight hours, in which case the receiver wouldn’t have the load in its possession until 2 p.m.

“This is going to have a negative productivity impact,” admits Montague.

“I know this continuous rest is going to be an issue.”

The rule, however, is based on sound scientific evidence indicating that continuous rest is far better than interrupted sleep.

“The science is so clear about continuous rest,” stresses Montague.

The new Hours-of-Service rules will have a greater impact on truckers from Alberta, who will have to adapt to a weekly driving cap.

Currently there is no driving cap in the province of Alberta, but these latest rules will change all that.

They will also eliminate ‘cycle-switching,’ where a driver could contend he was in compliance by adapting to whichever cycle best fit his situation at the time.

“If you’re on 70/7, you’re going to stay on it (until you’ve spent 72 hours off-duty),” says Montague.

There is a second cycle available – 120/14 – but Montague says “it’s not a very attractive option.”

While Canada’s new regulations will probably be implemented in a year or so, it remains to be seen what will happen south of the border.

In the meantime, Canadian truckers will have to continue to abide by U.S. Hours-of-Service regulations.

“We’re hopeful the Americans will adopt something very similar to ours,” says Montague.

He notes the U.S. has been unable to get industry to agree on a suitable H-o-S regime, whereas Canada quickly brought the rules to fruition once the CTA and Teamsters agreed on one system.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.