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Emergency provisions of U.S. truck laws triggered

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Canadian carriers trying to scramble their trucks home to Canadian soil following today's unpre...


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Canadian carriers trying to scramble their trucks home to Canadian soil following today’s unprecedented terrorist attacks can ignore Hours-of-Service (H-O-S) rules on the way.

President George W. Bush’s declaration of a national emergency triggers the “regional emergencies” exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

According to a condition of FMCSR 395.1, any truck driver experiencing delays resulting from an emergency is permitted to finish their trip without worrying about H-O-S, providing it would have been reasonable for them to do so had the delay not occured.

“We had a driver in Jamaica, N.Y.; that’s right on Manhattan Island,” says Garth Pitzel, director of safety and driver development for Winnipeg-based Bison Transport. “It took him three hours to get out of New York City … He said he felt like Bruce Willis and that the whole thing looked like Hiroshima.”

Pitzel says, obviously a trucker returning from northern Iowa wouldn’t be able to use this exemption.

Despite conflicting reports over the status of the Canada-U.S. border, the latest news indicates southbound freight has come to a complete standstill. At the same time, Canadian citizens are being allowed to return home. The process is reportedly extremely slow with Customs and Immigration officers placing a great deal of scrutiny on anyone leaving the country.

“We’re handling each driver on a case by case basis,” says Pitzel. Once truckers hit Canada, if they are out of hours, they are advised to stop, he adds.

According to David Osiecki, vice-president of the safety and operations with the American Trucking Associations, “any motor carrier or driver operating a commercial motor vehicle to provide emergency relief during an emergency,” can also use another exemption.

This second provision may not exceed the duration of the carrier’s or driver’s direct assistance in providing emergency relief, or 30 days from the date of the initial declaration of emergency, whichever is less. For more information, please contact the ATA Safety and Operations Department on 703-838-1847.


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