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OTTAWA — Canadians are going to have a new HOS rule in place by January 2007. The final rule, to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, won’t surprise anyone who has been following the progress of the rulemaking in recent years. It’s pretty much what Transport Canada described in Canada Gazette Part I, published February 15, 2003.

Brian Orrbine, chief of Motor Carrier Safety Policy at Transport Canada, says it’s been a long time coming, “…and I for one, am glad to be bringing this chapter of our regulatory evolution nearer to a close.” Orrbine has been Transport Canada’s point man on this issue for over a decade.

Brian Orrbine describes Transport Canada’s position on the rule change.

Among the highlights of the new rule:

~ Minimum off-duty time increased from 8 to 10 hours per day.

~ Canada will retain the ability to split sleeper and on-duty/driving time for single and team drivers.

~ Drivers may reset their hours after 36 or 72 consecutive hours off duty.

~ Ferry users may combine time waiting to board the ship with off-duty time while on board, under certain circumstances, to achieve 8 hours off-duty time.

~ Drivers may use one of two cycles, 70 hours in 7 days or 120 hours in 14 days, but must reset hours to zero before switching cycles.

~ Drivers may defer up to two hours of off-duty time to the subsequent day using what’s come to be known as the 48-hour averaging provision.

~ All drivers must retain logs and supporting documents for 14 days.

~ The rest reduction provision has been eliminated from the new rule.

Canadian truckers finally get a new set of HOS rules.

As expected, drivers operating in Canada may drive for up to 13 hours. They will not be allowed to drive after having accumulated 13 hours of driving time or 14 hours of on-duty time, including driving, in a day.

There have been two subtle distinctions added to the off-duty requirements. 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. However, drivers are required to take at least 10 hours off duty each day. The additional two hours needed to meet the 10-hours-off requirement may not be taken as part of the mandatory 8 consecutive hours off. In other words, drivers will be required to fulfill the 8-consecutive hours rule, as well as taking an additional two hours of off-duty break time during the day. Those 2 hours may be taken in increments no shorter than 30 minutes.

In addition, Transport Canada has added an “elapsed time” restriction to the length of the workday. Drivers may not drive if more than 16 hours have elapsed between the previous 8-hour sleeper period and the beginning of the next.

Orrbine discusses the reasons for the 16-hour “rule.”

If a driver logs 8 hours of sleep beginning at midnight, comes on duty at 8 a.m. and then works for 1 hour and drives for 13 hours (now 10 p.m.), he or she would be legal. If the driver works for 1 hour and drives for 10 hours, then takes a 3-hour off-duty break (now 10 p.m.), and then resumed driving for 3 more hours, he or she would be in violation of the 16-hour daily limit at midnight even though only 12 hours have been spent driving.

The net impact of this change will be to reduce the opportunity to drive from 16 hours in any 24-hour period under the old rule to 13 with the new rule.

Drivers may still split their sleeper/driving time provided the combined driving hours before and after a sleeper shift total no more than 13, and the sleeper time before and after the most recent driving interval totals at least 10 hours. A minimum of 2 hours in the sleeper is required to qualify for split-sleeper time for solo drivers; 4 hours for team drivers. The 16-hour limit applies in this case as well. Drivers splitting sleeper/driving/on-duty time may not exceed 16 hours of work without the required rest (not including qualified time logged in the sleeper). This section of the rule applies to team and solo drivers.

Sleeper time (more than 2 hours duration and two periods combined totaling 10 hours) does not count toward the 16-hour period. If a driver working on a 6-on, 5-off, 7-on, 5-off rotation spent 4 hours on-duty immediately after the second sleeper interval, the combination of 6 hours of driving, 4 hours on-duty, and the intended next driving interval of 7 hours would put the driver in violation of the 16-hour rule after six hours of driving.

The 2-hour off-duty deferral provision allows a driver 8 hours off in a given day rather than 10, provided the off-duty time taken the next day includes the time deferred from the day before. In other words, 12 hours off would be required on the second day. The combined on- and off-duty totals for the 2-day period must equal the normal requirements: total off-duty time must equal 20 hours and maximum driving time may not exceed 26 hours, hence the term ’48-hour averaging’. Drivers operating in split-sleeper mode may not use this provision.

Orrbine describes the function of the 48-hour averaging provision.

Drivers using ferries with transit times of more than 5 hours are not required to take 8 consecutive hours off duty provided time spent resting in a sleeper prior to boarding, time spent in rest accommodations onboard the ferry, and resting in a sleeper at a point no farther than 25 km from the terminal total at least 8 hours. Hours in the bunk must be logged as sleeper time, and receipts and supporting documentation for accommodations (a rented berth on the boat) on the ferry must be produced and must coincide with the notation on the log. Marine Atlantic’s safety policy precludes drivers from using the truck’s sleeper while on board.

As expected, drivers can drive up to 13 hours.

Canadians now have only two work cycles to worry about: 70 hours in 7 days or 120 hours in 14 days. Drivers are required to take at least 24 consecutive hours off duty before or upon reaching the 70th hour when using the 120-in-14 cycle. Drivers may reset their cumulative hours in a cycle to zero at any time during the period by taking 36 or 72 consecutive hours off-duty, respectively. Switching from 70 to 120 requires 36 hours off; switching from 120 to 70 requires 72 hours off. There will be a check box on the log sheet to indicate which cycle drivers are using.

Drivers operating north of 60ยบ latitude have a bit more leeway with their hours. Generally speaking, drivers may drive up to 15 hours inside an 18-hour window. The 16-hour window is extended to 20 hours, and for purposes of splitting sleeper time, the daily limit of on-duty time, not including sleeper time, is 18 hours. Drivers operating north of 60 are allowed 80 hours in 7 days, but cycle resets remain the same. This is obviously a very brief summary, please see the wording of the actual rule for full descriptions of the differences.

Orrbine sums up some of the less significant changes to the new HOS rules.

The emergency and adverse driving conditions provision remains the same as the old rules. The exemption for drivers who travel no further than a 160-km air radius from the terminal and return to the terminal each day has not changed.

Most of the required fields on the log sheet have not changed except there are specific notations a driver must make in the remarks section, such as when claiming deferred off-duty time, etc. The new rule now requires the log sheet to be signed at the end of the day. The previous rule was ambiguous on this point.

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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and Trucknews.com, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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