CRASH still looking to railroad HOS rules

OTTAWA, (April 10, 2003) — The railway-funded lobby group Canadians for Responsible and Safe Highways (CRASH) is back in the news again after releasing a statement that claims new Canadian hours of service rules will result in more road crashes.

The proposed regulation would restrict drivers to 14 hours on duty (13 hours driving) followed by 10 hours off during a 24-hour period. At least eight of these off-duty hours would have to be taken consecutively, with the additional two hours to be taken in increments of no less than a half hour.

Other changes include eliminating the option to reduce the off-duty time from eight hours to four hours; increasing the minimum rest for co-drivers using a sleeper berth from two hours to four consecutive hours; allowing the averaging of on-duty and off-duty time over a 48-hour period; and cutting the number of available work/rest cycles from three to two: a maximum 70-hour cycle over seven days and a maximum 120-hour cycle over 14 days.

Bob Evans, executive director of CRASH said: “Ottawa’s new rules would legalize fatigue-causing workweeks of 84 hours (with 78 hours of driving time). This compares with a current American weekly limit of about 60 hours of driving. And, truck and bus operators could be legally required to drive for 16 hour stretches on as many as four days in a week.”

However proponents of the new proposal, which include the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Teamsters Union, argue that the two extra off-duty hours will give drivers more time to attend to their daily lives. Currently, drivers can still work 15 hours (13 driving), and then log off for eight. But since that system is based on a 23-hour rotation of on-duty/off-duty periods, drivers can legally work 16 hours in a 24-hour period. Furthermore, they may actually be required to start work one hour earlier each day.

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