Truck News


Smith wrong in hours stance

Dear Editor,Truck News Editor John G. Smith and the CCMTA (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators) are wrong about the hours of service regulations -- dead wrong. Despite all the talk abou...

Dear Editor,

Truck News Editor John G. Smith and the CCMTA (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators) are wrong about the hours of service regulations — dead wrong. Despite all the talk about due diligence and public safety, the fat cats who own the wheels and the road are quite happy to increase the time a professional driver can spend behind the wheel, and they think they can push it through without a whimper.

Working 14 hours a day without 24 hours off at the end of the week will allow a driver to log what, 98 hours in seven days? Few drivers are going to work that many hours (some will, though) but many of you better get used to 70-plus weeks — without overtime (interprovincial truckers and farmworkers are the only professions that are not required to be paid overtime benefits under 60 hours).

Smith argues in his column last month that 14-hour workdays will balance the “circadian rhythms.” Sure, the rhythms of a robot. For most other trades, 70 hours per week is the work of two people. Professional truckers’ working conditions are under attack. Why shouldn’t the Teamsters make the public aware of this charade? (Albeit, their simulated crash on a flatbed was a little over the top.)

Elsewhere, Smith argues: “Nor does the union appear worried that its proposed rules would make it impossible to make a return journey between Toronto and Montreal.” The fact is, even with a 15-hour day, it’s virtually impossible to deliver and pick up a load in Montreal and get back to Toronto the same day. The quickest I ever did it was 12.5 hours, dropping and hooking up a set of trains, without breaks and pedal down.

Most companies live with the reality of running switches to Kingston, Ont. This allows a driver to run the switch and make a delivery or two in Toronto or Montreal and put in a 10-hour day. Check out the number of drivers with manifests at the Cataraqui Truck Stop in Kingston.

Many drivers resent unions. Some, like the owner-ops are fiercely independent, and believe the hype spewed by much of the media that unions are evil, self-serving empires. Others will never get a shot at a union contract and have no idea what working in a union environment is like.

Teamsters drivers do get paid overtime after 42 hours. Their drivers don’t have to work mega hours to raise a family. There is usually a clause in their contract that says: “The company will endeavor to provide safe equipment,” so if a wheel comes off you’re not wearing it.

Why should you be required to work a 70-hour week (and you will be required to if these guidelines are adopted — there will be no such thing as “out of hours”)? As a young driver, too many times I had to slap myself awake, stick my head out the window, or hold the lit end of the cigarette close to my fingers so the ember would keep me conscious.

If driver fatigue is such a major factor, why are they increasing the thresholds? And what’s all the fuss about drug testing if they’re going to allow sleepy drivers on the road, anyway?

The trucking industry is taking a big step backwards with the new hours of service proposals. Don’t expect David Bradley and the Ontario Trucking Association, (or the National Truckers Association for that matter) to go to bat for Mr. or Ms Professional Driver. Personally, I’m glad somebody is.

Harry Rudolfs

Toronto, Ont.

Ed: To address one of the points, the CCMTA proposal will limit drivers to 70 hours in seven days or 120 hours in 14 days. Once the 70-hour limit is reached within seven days, a driver will have to take a 36-hour break (known as a “reset”) before starting another seven-day cycle. While a driver could accumulate 84 hours in seven days, he will have to have taken 36 hours off.

The proposal may not be perfect, but it promises more rest than you have under current rules.

As for the Montreal-Toronto scenario, you’re right about the Kingston switches. But what about the long haulers in search of truck stops? Are we going to leave them abandoned at the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere?

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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