Alberta holds fast on HOS and speed limiters, other changes afoot

BANFF, Alta. — Alberta Transport Minister Luke Ouellette doesn’t mince words while addressing the issue of federal hours of service legislation and speed limiters.

While speaking at the Alberta Motor Transport Association’s annual conference, which was held in Banff, Alta. on April 18 and 19, the minister kept the same stance on speed limiters – no – but back peddled from the optimism of last year that federal HOS regulations could be adopted.

“I want to state very clearly that I have no immediate plans to mandate federal hours of service regulations,” Ouellette said. “Given the state of the economy, I don’t think it’s the time to put restrictions on small companies.”

Part of Ouellette’s concern is that under the federal rules the starting weight is much lower – about 7,000 kg – which would require some one-tonne trucks to follow the rules. But Ouellette did note that he has met with the federal Transport Minister John Baird who may be more receptive to weight changes than the previous minister.

Ouellette also reminded the audience that Saskatchewan also hasn’t adopted the federal regulations yet, so Alberta isn’t a lone wolf.

As for speed limiters, Ouellette says he has no plans on going there at this time.

“Forcing trucks to stay below 105 km/h on provincial highways could potentially cause more collisions on roads, while other vehicles travel at higher speeds,” said Ouellette. “As long as we have highways with speeds at 110 km/h, I don’t think it would be safe to force trucks to travel below that.”

Ouellette also noted that problems with speeding trucks can be combated through roadside enforcement and it would likely take a North America-wide initiative to get his ministry on board.

It’s a similar stance the minister took on the idea of mandatory use of electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs). The department might consider using them as a measure for poor performing carriers, but industry-wide mandatory use is not supported.

The province however is open to change, especially when it comes to weights and dimensions. Ouellette told the crowd his department was currently looking for a provincial route where testing for equal weights on dual tires and wide-based single tires could be done in the province.

“If the road becomes damaged more we won’t go any farther,” noted Ouellette. “But if there’s no damage we could raise the limit.”

The minister however did not hint at what highway would be used, or how many trucks would participate in the pilot project.

The province has also decided to increase the length of long combination vehicles (LCVs) in Alberta to create a similarity between Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Currently in Saskatchewan and Manitoba the total length, including aerodynamic boat tails is 41 meters. In Alberta, the total length allowed will be 40 meters, with a one-meter extra allowance for aerodynamic devices. The previous length limit in Alberta was 38 meters.

The minister also made note of a comprehensive fatigue management program that was spear-headed in Alberta, which we reported on here at last year. With the three testing phases complete, the program’s administrators will work on developing the procedures and protocols the program needs to provide treatment and a better working environment for drivers suffering from sleep disorders.

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