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Transport Canada Publishes New HOS Rule

by Jim Park

Canadians are going to have a new HOS rule in place by January 2007. The final rule, published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on November 16, won’t surprise anyone who has been following the progress of the rulemaking in recent years. It’s much what Transport Canada described in Canada Gazette, Part 1, published February 15, 2003.

Brian Orrbine, Chief, 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.
As expected, drivers operating in Canada may drive for up to 13 hours, but will not be allowed to drive after having accumulated 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 eight 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 eight consecutive hours off. Drivers will be required to fulfill the eight-consecutive-hours rule, as well as taking an additional two hours off 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 has elapsed between the previous eight-hour sleeper period and the beginning of the next. The net impact of this change will be to reduce the opportunity to drive from 16 hours – in any 24 – 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 two hours in the sleeper is required to qualify for split-sleeper time for solo drivers; four hours for team drivers. The 16-hour limit applies in this case as well.

The two-hour off-duty deferral provision allows a driver to take eight 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 a 48-hour period must equal the normal requirements: total off-duty time must equal 20 hours, 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.

Drivers using ferries with transit times of more than five hours are not required to take eight consecutive hours off duty provided time spent resting in a sleeper prior to boarding, time spent in rest accommodations onboard the ferry, and time resting in a sleeper at a point no farther than 25 km from the terminal, total at least eight hours. Hours in the bunk waiting must be logged as sleeper time, and to qualify as off-duty time, drivers will have to rent a berth on the boat and keep receipts and supporting documentation for accommodations. Marine Atlantic’s safety policy precludes drivers from using the truck’s sleeper while onboard.

Canadians now have only two work cycles to worry about: 70 hours in seven 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. 

North of Sixty
Drivers operating north of 60º 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 60o latitude are allowed 80 hours in seven days, but cycle resets remain the same.

Administrative Requirements
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. All drivers will be required to retain logs and supporting documents for 14 days. 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 be signed at the end of the day. The previous rule was ambiguous on this point.
This is only a brief overview of the new rule. It was published just as highwaySTAR was going to press, so detailed analysis just wasn’t possible. We’ll have more on the new rule in coming issues, count on it.

Highlights of the 2007 Rule

  • Minimum off-duty time increased from eight to 10 hours per day.
  • Split sleeper retained for solo 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 eight hours off-duty time.
  • Two cycles to choose from: 70 hours in seven days, or 120 hours in 14 days.
  • Drivers may defer up to two hours of off-duty time to the subsequent day using the “48-hour averaging provision.”
  • The rest reduction provision has been eliminated from the new rule.



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