Truck News


Tough questions; honest answers

Q. I am seriously considering getting out of the business of driving trucks. I run the U.S. and the delays are costing me big dollars. I just can't get the miles in that I'm used to. My company tells ...

Q. I am seriously considering getting out of the business of driving trucks. I run the U.S. and the delays are costing me big dollars. I just can’t get the miles in that I’m used to. My company tells me that the wait must be recorded as driving or on-duty time. That’s where the big cost is to me.

A. Unfortunately, they are right. The hours of work regulations would deem crawling along the roads leading to the crossing point to be driving, plain and simple. And if you are stopped but waiting to drive I’d take the approach you are on-duty but not driving. Now if you know you are going to be sitting there and you decide to read a book or do whatever, I’d book it as off-duty. The key is, are you free to do something other that operating the truck? For example, could you catch 40 winks if so desired?

The bigger concern that I have with long, and it seems more frequent, border delays, is that there are many other drivers that would jump at the chance to get out of the industry. It truly is another potential “hit” to a shrinking driver base.

Q. I operate a small trucking company, and just don’t understand why my out-of-service rate in Ontario is consistently higher than it is in the U.S. I thought that we all operated under the same inspection procedures.

A. Yes we do in the sense that jurisdictions throughout North America are members of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and subscribe to the same inspection procedures. But the big difference is that in Ontario, roadside vehicle inspections are Level 1 inspections, which include a check of the underside of the vehicle, most notably brakes. And at least in my experience, this is the component that most often results in an out-of-service defect. If you check your CVSA inspection reports you note the level of inspection undertaken in the upper left corner.

Q. I just don’t get the CVOR point system, and how offences are assigned various point levels. My particular beef is with 6-point log offences. How on earth can the number of points be the same regardless of the nature of the offence?

A. Frankly I agree. It would strike me that there may be some validity for a conviction associated with a clear violation of driving time, over cycle, inadequate rest period etc. But I too have some difficulty with a paperwork violation being assigned the same number of points. For example, let’s take the case of a log that is not maintained in accordance with data entry requirements. (e.g. driver didn’t sign his name, missing odometer reading etc.) Big deal. But a conviction will still cost 6 CVOR points. Failure to produce a driver’s licence carries 2 points. Failure to produce a log, 6 points. Go figure.

Q. Could you fill me in on the provisions in the Highway Traffic Act regarding “ignition interlock devices”? I came across this when I pulled an abstract.

A. There is a requirement under the Act relating to convictions associated with criminal code drinking and driving offences. And there can be a significant impact on the trucking industry in this regard. If you have any driver that has been convicted of such an offence, I would encourage you to review the entire section. But in a nutshell here’s what it says/requires under HTA Section 41, in so far as a first conviction is concerned.

If a person’s driver’s licence is suspended under section 41 as a result of a first conviction for an offence under section 253 or subsection 254 (5) of the Criminal Code (Canada) and his or her driver’s licence is reinstated under section 41.1, it is a condition of the person’s driver’s licence that he or she be prohibited from driving any motor vehicle that is not equipped with an approved ignition interlock device.

Note the key requirement that any motor vehicle driven by the driver must be equipped with such device. The condition for an interlock device will show on the driver abstract as an “I”. There are provisions under the Act associated with having this condition removed. But there are time limits.

Q. I recently had an audit. Where I screwed up was with my preventative maintenance scheduling. We run a tight ship, but I guess too tight, as there were some instances where as the officer put it, “we didn’t do what we said we would”. Our score went down as a result.

A. I’ve noted this before. There is a requirement under the Act that every operator have a system in place regarding its preventative maintenance. The problem crops up often where the schedule or the standard is high. Perhaps too high and the operator gets “caught” not keeping up to its own maintenance schedule. The key is to loosen it up. If for example an aspect of your maintenance program is to inspect generally inspect your vehicles every 15,000 kms or 30 days, raise it to 20,000 kms and 45 days. Give yourself some flexibility. On a related question, yes you can set your maintenance plan to be an annual inspection only as required under Section 85. On audit, you would have to be able to produce evidence of the prior annual inspection certificate.

Blair Gough is a consultant to the trucking industry and can be reached at 905-689-2727.

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