How a 34-hr reset can turn into 54 off-duty hours

TORONTO — The DOT’s proposed amendment to the 34-hour restart provision was glossed over by many at first as the possibility of cutting allowable driving hours garnered much of the attention.

But it has several dramatic implications.

For one thing, the “midnight-to-6:00 a.m." requirement could shorten the average length of haul and require more drivers, some possibly unqualified, to be hired.

It could force more trucks on to congested corridors during the day and hamper delivery pipelines to more rural markets.

The lack of available overnight resting real estate is another huge problem.  

The proposed requirement for two

But at least one astute observer points out how requiring two downtime periods in the middle of the night is loaded with other pitfalls for some Canadian drivers, who could be forced to take up to 54 hours off to eliminate the previous eight days accumulated duty hours.

André Perret, who runs The Road-Scholar, a Hamilton-based fleet loss-prevention, safety and compliance services firm, explains it thusly:

Currently, if a Canadian driver takes a full, continuous and uninterrupted 36 hours off-duty, he can start a new cycle in Canada or accumulate a new block of 70 hrs/eight days in the U.S. “This means that if he, say, ends his week’s shift on a Saturday at 10:00 a.m., he could — legally in both countries — be back on the road for another week’s shift on Sunday at 10:00 p.m., 36 hours later.

The proposed reset revision, however, requires two consecutive “graveyard shift” rest-periods [midnight to 6:00 a.m.] within the 34-hr off-duty reset.

“Using the same example as above, said driver … could not return to duty until 6:00 a.m. on Monday to satisfy the two required ‘midnight to 6:00 a.m.’ requirements — a 44-hour break!

“And if he was [unlucky] enough to make it back to the terminal at, say, 1:00 a.m., that Saturday, he would require a 54-hour break to reset legally.”

Perret points out that allowable resets with only the minimum 36-hours downtime required (or 34-hour, intra-US) would happen if a cross-border driver were to end his week’s shift around 6:00 p.m. of day one and begin a new week’s cycle at 6:00 a.m. of day three.

“There are a number of carriers I know of whose scheduled lanes will be immensely screwed up with these requirements,” Perret tells us. “Talk about driver shortage… ain’t seen nothing yet.”

For the complete lowdown of the proposed changes, be sure to check out the February issue of Today’s Trucking.

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