PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — B.C. truck loggers are looking to convince regulators to allow more driving hours than the upcoming Canadian hours-of-service rules mandate.
According to the Prince George Citizen, the B.C. Forest Safety Council is submitting recommendations this week to the province urging for more flexible regulations than the federal, 14-hours on, 10-off rules demand, but still lower than the current maximum in B.C.
Technically, the federal regulations under the National Safety Code only cover inter-provincial truckers, so the province could amend the rules if it wants to.
The forest safety council is recommending that log truckers be limited 13 hours a day, plus two more hours for in-service, which covers waiting time during loading and unloading, Central Interior Logging Association manager Roy Nagel told the newspaper.
The council is also calling for a cap of 80 hours over six days, with 30 consecutive hours off duty in each seven-day week, the Citizen reports.
Currently, under rules reached in the early ’90s, log truckers are allowed to drive 15 hours a day, with no restrictions on the number of hours per week, provided the driver travelled within a 400-kilometre radius of their home base, and returned to it to sleep.
Federal hours-of-service rules taking affect next year allow 13 hours behind the wheel, but only one allowable non-driving hour, for a total of 14 on-duty hours per day — over a maximum 70-hour week or 120 hours in 14 days. Drivers may reset their hours after 36 or 72 consecutive hours off duty.
Furthermore, after having accumulated 13 hours of driving or 14 hours on-duty time, drivers may not drive again until they have had 8 consecutive hours off duty on top of the additional two hours of break-time required.
Nagel, who is also a member of the council, says the “middle-of-the-road” approach his group is taking would accommodate the unique operations of the logging sector while still maintaining an appropriate level of safety.
Log truck accidents in the northern B.C. Interior have certainly made headlines over the last few years. About 24 truck drivers have died in highway accidents since 1995 near Prince George, although fatigue has not been cited as a major reason for most of the crashes.
— with files from the Prince George Citizen.
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