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The 10-Year Plan

by Jim Park

Canada’s new hours-of-service (HOS) rules come into effect Jan. 1, 2007, so we’ve got nearly a year to figure them out. Actually, not a lot has changed, and much of what’s changed won’t have a huge impact on how we operate. You’ll find the pertinent changes outlined here, along with a description of the two major changes: the 16-hour workshift limit, and the 13-hour daily driving limit.

Available daily driving time remains the same at 13 hours, but the on-duty period has been shortened from 15 hours to 14 (Section 12). And, the mandatory daily off-duty period has been extended to 10 from 8 hours (Section 13, 14). More on this below.

There are a couple of points in the new rules that still require a bit of explaining. Over the course of the next year, Transport Canada will be writing a regulatory guidance document, explaining, or interpreting, the rules – something we’ve never had in Canada. The U.S. DOT publishes such a document, and they are currently writing a new one.

The one curious addition to the wording of the new rules is this one, Section 4: No motor carrier, shipper, consignee or other person shall request, require or allow a driver to drive and no driver shall drive if… Note the reference to “shipper” and “consignee”? These words don’t appear in the current rules. One wonders, at this point, if shippers and consignees will have to start checking logbooks, or more importantly, if they will be held accountable for HOS violations. This is one point I will recommend be formally interpreted by Transport Canada when that work gets under way.

Anyway, let’s get to it: here’s what’s new in Canada’s ‘07 HOS rules, and how the rules will affect the work you do.

Workshift Limits
Section 13 (3): The current regulations do not limit the length of the workshift, i.e., the elapsed time a driver can drive after coming on-duty. Currently, a driver can log off-duty to stop the clock, in effect extending the length of the workday. Consider the following example: A driver starts driving at midnight, drives for 4 hours; takes 3 hours off-duty; drives again for 4 hours; takes another 3 hours off-duty; drives for 2 hours; spends 2 hours unloading; and then drives for another 3 hours.
The length of this workshift would be 21 hours.

See example 1
The ultimate affect of this on- and off-duty rotation has been workdays with no clear end, and no specific limits. The new rule places a 16-hour limit on the period of time that can elapse between the beginning and the end of a shift. The rule reads as follows: …  no driver shall drive after 16 hours of time have elapsed between the conclusion of the most recent period of 8 or more consecutive hours of off-duty time and the beginning of the next period of 8 or more consecutive hours of off-duty time.

Drivers who opt to use the split-sleeper provision (Section 18) are subject to the same limits, but the totals are cumulative – in other words, any sleeper interval longer than 2 hours [provided it qualifies as “split-sleeper” time] stops the elapsed-time clock and extends the work day.

For example, a driver begins work at midnight, driving for 6 hours before taking 5 hours in the sleeper. Next he or she drives for 2 hours before taking 1 hour off for lunch, and then drives for 5 hours. The driver would have reached the 16-hour limit at 4 p.m., but since the split-sleeper provision is being used, the driver may drive until 7 p.m. before reaching 13 driving hours.

See example 2
The elapsed time that counts toward the 16-hour limit in this case is only 14 hours (6 + 2 + 5 driving, plus 1 off-duty). As of 7 p.m., the driver must take at least 5 hours in the sleeper to fulfill the 10-hour split-sleeper requirement for this rotation.

The intent of the 16-hour elapsed-time limit, according to Brian Orrbine, head of Transport Canada’s Motor Carrier Road Safety Policy Directorate, is to ensure drivers get eight continuous hours of rest. “It’s a good fit. We let you drive for 13 out of 14 hours, and we give you 16 hours to accomplish that,” he says. “That leaves you eight hours off to get the proper rest. Under the old [current] rules, a driver could work a one-hour-on / one-hour-off rotation for 24 hours and remain legal. But is that safe? We didn’t think so, and that’s why we included the elapsed-time limit of 16 hours.”

More Downtime?

So, now that we know there’s a 16-hour elapsed time limit to contend with, there’s another limit to be aware of: the daily driving limit. Section 12 (1) says, … no driver shall drive after the driver has accumulated 13 hours of driving time in a day. And, (2) … no driver shall drive after the driver has accumulated 14 hours of on-duty time in a day.

What’s significant here is the word, “day.” The new rules define a day as: “day,” in respect of a driver, means a 24-hour period that begins at the hour designated by the motor carrier for the duration of the driver’s cycle. So, Section 12 says you can drive 13 hours in a “day,” and since “day” means a 24-hour period, you can only drive 13 hours out of 24.

Under the current rules, theoretically, you could drive for 16 hours in a 24-hour period. For example, you drive for 13 hours beginning at midnight, sleep for 8 hours, and then drive again. You’d wake at 9 p.m. with 3 hours left in the “day.” Even though you’d have just begun a new driving shift, you can’t do that anymore. Given that you’ll be required to take 10 hours off rather than 8, you’d still have 1 hour to kill before driving again.

This new restriction on working time is likely to affect only the serious longhaul drivers, and only in a small way. If, on a full day’s driving with no stops (like that ever happens), a driver reaches the 13-hour driving limit before the 14-hour limit for on-duty and driving time, he or she will have to park. At that point, the driver will be required to take 10 hours off. The net loss to this driver would be one hour. But let’s be realistic, it would be a challenge to get through a 13-hour day of driving without at least some time spent sitting still. And it’s likely that sometime during the day that remaining hour will disappear in some on-duty endeavour such as fueling, trip inspections, Customs, etc.

I predict most drivers will either use the two hours for meal and coffee breaks, and take the required 8 hours off consecutively, or split the sleeper and driving time, whereby that single hour will turn into fueling, trip inspections, etc. I don’t expect any dramatic reductions in productivity, except as a result of the additional 2 off-duty hours required.  

48-hour Averaging
Section 16: This new provision allows drivers to defer, or carry over, a maximum of 2 hours of off-duty time to the following day. Drivers could, for example, take 6 hours off plus 2 additional hours of break time on Day 1 (rather than 8 + 2), but they would have to add those 2 hours to the total off-duty time the following day (10 + 2). The effect would be to average the two days’ off-duty time to at least 20 hours in 48, while limiting the two days’ worth of driving time to 26 hours – in effect, the same as would be taken over two days of normal work. Drivers would be required to note time deferred in the “remarks” section on the log sheet.

Transit on a Ferry
Section 17: Time spent waiting to board, time spent aboard while in transit, and any additional time required to meet the 8-hour requirement after leaving the boat may be logged as consecutive off-duty time, provided the driver takes a rented berth while aboard the ferry (must retain receipts for the accommodations), and any additional off-duty time required must be taken at a point no farther than 25 km from the ferry terminal. This provision applies only to ferry trips longer than five hours.

Team Driving
Section 19: All of these rules apply to team drivers as well, including the 16-hour rule when splitting sleep and driving time [as explained above], with a couple of exceptions. Team drivers must sleep in shifts no less than 4 hours duration, and the two periods of off-duty time must be at least 8 hours. Team drivers cannot take advantage of the 48-hour averaging provision. 

Duty Cycles
Section 24-29: The new rules eliminate the “70 hours in 8 days” cycle, leaving two cycles: “70 hours in 7 days,” and “120 hours in 14 days.” Drivers must declare which cycle they’re using, and cannot switch between cycles without taking a reset period (72 hours to switch from the 120-hour cycle to the 70-hour cycle, or 36 hours to switch the other way). Drivers using the 120-hour cycle must log 24 consecutive off-duty hours sometime at or before the 70th hour.

North of 60º Latitude
Drivers who work in the North have been granted a little more latitude in the daily and weekly limits, as well as the cycle lengths.
Section 38, (1) and (2) driving and on-duty time: Drivers may drive up to 15 hours within 18 hours of on-duty time inside an elapsed-time window of 20 hours.
Section 39, off-duty time: Drivers must take at least 8 consecutive hours of off-duty before driving.
Section 49-52, cycles: Similar to the south, but allowed 80 hours in 7 days.

Out of Service Declaration
Section 91: As with the old rules, drivers can be put out-of-service (OOS) for various breaches of the HOS rules, but the duration of the OOS periods have changed. Drivers could be put OOS for 10 hours if deemed to be fatigued or otherwise impaired to the point of endangering the public by continuing to drive; or has violated the 13- and/or 14-hour daily limits (section 4, a or b). A 72-hour OOS might result if the inspector finds more than one logbook on board; if there is clear evidence of falsification; if supporting documentation has been tampered with or rendered unreadable; or if a driver fails to surrender a logbook for inspection (section 86 or 98).

Personal Use
Section 2 (e, i-vi): Drivers will be allowed limited personal use of CMVs, provided: (i) the vehicle has been unloaded, (ii) any trailers have been unhitched, (iii) the distance travelled does not exceed 75 km in a day, (iv) the driver records the odometer reading at the beginning and end of the personal use, and (v) the driver is not under an out-of-service order. However, drivers will not be allowed to claim personal use of the vehicle while “in the course of business as a motor carrier,” meaning, for example, you would not be allowed to bobtail to the shop for repairs using the “personal use” clause.

Elimination of the short-change rule
Transport Canada has eliminated the practice of allowing drivers to reduce their minimum consecutive off-duty time from 8 to 4 hours once in 7 days, saying it’s not consistent with the objective of providing a sufficient opportunity to recover from fatigue.

Log Retention
Section 82, 84: All drivers will be required to retain logs and supporting documentation [fuel and toll receipts, etc.] for 14 days regardless of the cycle they choose.

Signing the Log Sheet

Section 82, (3), says the driver is required to sign the log sheet at the end of each day. That should clarify a long-standing debate. The U.S. rules make no reference as to when the driver should sign the log, only that it must be signed.

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