“Business as usual” for Canadian transborder carriers – for now

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. Canadian carriers that operate in the U.S. say it will be business as usual despite an appeals court decision that deemed the new U.S. Hours-of-Service rules illegal. Well, business as usual for now anyways.

A 45-day review period is now underway and for the time being, the existing rules will continue to be enforced in the U.S.

“We are just doing business as usual – we’re continuing to stay with the existing regulations as they were introduced in January,” says Stephen Evans, director of safety and compliance with H&R Transport. “We don’t anticipate that this will be a huge thing.”

Immediately upon learning of the ruling, Evans sent a satellite message to all the fleet’s drivers advising them to abide by the current regulations.

“I just gave them a heads-up not to worry – that it’s simply a normal part of the process of having a new piece of legislation,” Evans told Truck News. “There are always challenges and there are always groups that try to massage the thing and it’s a healthy process.”

Evans likens any panic surrounding the announcement to the concerns aired by the industry when the new U.S. HOS regime was first introduced.

“Everybody made it out that it was going to be such a horrible, horrible thing…Certainly there has been some impact but it’s not as dire as some of them made it out to be,” said Evans of the new HOS rules south of the border. “Once they went into place over the last couple of months, it’s amazing how everyone who was predicting such a gloomy outlook have found that it really hasn’t been that nasty and it was actually a fairly easy transition. I think anyone who would make much out of this situation now is doing the same thing.”

Reimer Express Lines isn’t expecting much of an impact at all since most of its drivers operating south of the border are team drivers. Reimer president Allan Robison says it’s also business as usual within his company at least until the 45-day review period wraps up at which time, anything could happen.

“Who knows where it’s going to go in 45 days?” Robison said. “I don’t know whether they’ll go back to the old rules or whether they’ll come up with some sort of explanation that makes the courts happy.”

Mike Taylor of Accord Transportation also told Truck News that “I don’t see it impacting us at all in the short-term, it’s one of those long-term things that might (impact us) if they end up changing the HOS rules.”

Taylor isn’t opposed to minor tinkering of the HOS regime, as long as it is done quickly and then left alone.

“However the rules pan out, as long as it’s a level playing field and they’re reasonable in terms of what is expected of the drivers then I don’t think anyone has a problem with it,” Taylor said. “There’s a learning curve any time they change the rules and the HOS aren’t the most simple rules to follow so I don’t think we want to be living in a situation where we’re constantly reviewing and changing them – that’s for sure.”

While it may be business as usual for Canadian carriers for the time being, they have expressed some concern that Canada’s own impending HOS changes may be impacted by the U.S. ruling.

“It’s certainly not great timing,” said Reimer’s Robison. “We worked so hard on this one here in Canada and I think that we have done what the U.S. didn’t do – we’ve provided the science and everything else and I think it should move forward. But you never know, politically some people may want to sit back and take another look.”

Evans agreed: “We’ve done a fair bit of work to get to where we are now…I’m hopeful that it won’t make a huge difference.”

Truck News contacted the CCMTA and Transport Canada for reaction but they were unavailable for comment at the time.

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