HOS up for review

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Federal and provincial governments agree that if the "16-hour window" is to be included in the new HOS, it must be reviewed within one year after coming into effect.

The review would be conducted to determine whether there are negative safety and economic consequences. The proposal to review the window provision was a compromise solution proposed by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) to federal Transport Minister Tony Valeri.

In recent weeks, it had become apparent that the provincial governments and Transport Canada were unanimous in their desire to implement the working window regardless of industry concerns, in order to pave the way for finalization of the Canadian rules later this year, according to CTA officials.

In a letter to CTA chief executive David Bradley, Johanne St-Cyr, president of the CCMTA states, "[we] agree with CTA’s suggestion to conduct a review from an economic and safety perspective of the effects of the 16-hour window provision one year after the implementation of the federal hours of service regulations."

According to Bradley: "Our position remains that a fixed 16-hour window is not in the best interests of reducing driver fatigue and will have a negative impact on industry productivity."

Bradley points to "regulatory fatigue" over the ongoing process of amending the hours of service regulations as the likely reason why governments decided to proceed with the window provision: "As we have seen so often, this issue is never over ’til it’s over, so there is always a chance that some provinces will come to the realization that the 16-hour window is problematic and may reconsider their support for it. But, we could not count on that. A commitment by governments to review the matter suggests that we were able to at least raise sufficient concern for the issue not be closed."

The fixed window measure requires a truck driver to complete all his driving time within 16 hours of coming on duty. CTA has long argued that such a measure would discourage naps and rest breaks and would negatively impact a driver’s productivity, as it would penalize drivers for taking more than the prescribed two hours of "supplemental" off-duty time in addition to the required eight hour core rest.

Says Bradley: "The issue boiled down to how many hours a driver needs in order to complete his 13 hours of driving in a shift, when one considers that he is constantly faced with delays which are beyond his control such as waiting to be loaded or unloaded. He could use at least some of these delays as off-duty time, to take a rest while he is waiting, if his driving time weren’t subsequently reduced. Under the 16 hour window provision, however, those driving hours now become like gold, and we’re concerned that drivers will feel additional pressure not to stop for naps, rest breaks and meals, just to make sure they get their driving hours in."

CCMTA jurisdictions were virtually all lined up in favour of staying with the 16-hour window, despite the fact that the industry was arguing for more not less allowable off-duty time, say CTA officials.

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