Q: How would you change hours of service regulations if given the chance?
July 1, 2000
GUELPH, Ont. - Both Canada and the U.S. are in the midst of revising their hours of service rules, but Truck News went to My Little Margie's Truck Stop Restaurant north of Hwy. 401 near Guelph, Ont. t...
GUELPH, Ont. – Both Canada and the U.S. are in the midst of revising their hours of service rules, but Truck News went to My Little Margie’s Truck Stop Restaurant north of Hwy. 401 near Guelph, Ont. to find out what those behind the wheel think of existing rules. For that matter, if they thought they needed to be changed, how should they be changed?
Victor Kuipers of Skelton Truck Lines lives in Sudbury, about 400 km away from the company yard. That’s why he would like to see an end to weekly caps on hours of service.
“I can only run eight hours (a shift) over two weeks,” he says of the rules that he follows at the wheel of a 1999 International Eagle.
That’s not to say that he’s against driving limits. He’d be happy with driving 10 hours a day, but doesn’t see a point in any enforced “weekends”. Another three hours a day would provide the time to load, unload or carry out the other duties of a professional trucker, he says.
“I remember when they just brought out the logbook,” says Bob Green, who drives a 1997 Volvo for Charlie Watson and Sons Co., east of Guelph, Ont. “The whole system is not in synch.”
The system doesn’t recognize the realities of running from Toronto to Vancouver, he says. It may be forcing a break, but he remembers that rest areas are few and far between in northern Ontario.
“You’re resting, but you’re not sleeping. They may be saying it’s four hours sleep, but it’s not.
“I figure 12-hour days, five days a week,” he says. “The older you get, 60 hours is still a lot of hours.”
“The regs are trying to put (all drivers) in one set, but it doesn’t work that way,” he adds.
The best solution would be hourly wages, he suggests. “That way, a person who has got 40 hours, he knows what he has for a paycheque.”
“For me, I always run legal,” says Gervais Rioux of Cornwall, Ont., who drives a 1999 Freightliner Century Class for Schneider National.
He’s perfectly happy with the U.S. limits of 10 hours driving followed by an eight-hour break.
“As long as I sleep seven hours, I’m OK there,” he says. “Sometimes if you have too long (to rest), you get more tired than when you’re driving. Some places, you might stop, there’s nothing there to do. Most of the time there’s no washroom or anything.”
“I don’t think they need to be changed,” says Al Veldjesgraaf, Toronto-bound from Aberfoyle, Ont. in a 1999 International Eagle. “If a guy needs an extra few hours a day, he can get it (after the minimum break). You can still make it across the border.
“We’re not out there for a good time. It’s work,” he says, noting that it’s important to offer enough flexibility so truckers can be as productive as possible.
“I realize everyone is under extreme pressure for safety,” he adds. “So if a driver makes a mistake, if he hurts somebody, he should be heavily penalized for it.”
Canadian truckers have a better system than that imposed in the U.S., says Eric “Duke” Noble, of Al’s Cartage in Kitchener, Ont. “Thirteen hours driving, 15 hours working, you can get a little bit done during the day.”
These days, he doesn’t have to keep a logbook since he runs a local route. But that’s long enough, he says.
Truckers would have an appropriate system if it limited them to a maximum of 15 hours of work in every 24 hours, he adds.
“But they’re (regulators) trying to fit everyone into one set of rules and it don’t work. Nobody’s the same.”
“I think they’re all right,” John Boland of Elgin Roth Transport says of the existing rules, taking a break before he delivers a load of barrier walls with his 1999 Freightliner FLD 120.
“They allow enough sleep … I’m quite satisfied with the eight hours (of off-duty time).” n