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New Canadian HOS regime around the corner

Coming soon to a logbook near you:
Canadian-made HOS

OTTAWA - Canada's new hours-of-service rules have been formally approved and will be published in the Canada Gazette Part II in mid-November, Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre announced.

The Changes to the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations will reduce the maximum daily driving time for commercial drivers and increase their minimum off-duty time, says Lapierre.

As expected, the rules have hardly changed since they were first published in the Gazette Part I. They consist of 13 hours driving; 14 hours on-duty; 10 hours off, with a 16-hour elapsed working window in a 24-hour work day.

However, in order to be more compatible with their new 2003 US HOS rules, Canada also included a sleeper berth exception, allowing drivers to split their off-duty time.Ironically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration abandoned the split-sleeper option as it was first written when it revised its rules as part of a court order this past summer. Drivers now must now take eight consecutive hours off, rather than split the off-duty time as per their own choosing.

The regulations will continue to be enforced by the provinces and territories. The new regulations will be effective as of January 1, 2007.

"The Government of Canada is committed to continually enhancing the safety of commercial drivers and all other users of Canadian road and highway systems," said Lapierre in a press release. "These new regulations will significantly enhance the current regime for truck and bus drivers in Canada, resulting in improved workplace safety and quality of life."

These new regulations incorporate current scientific research on driver fatigue and reflect an agreement reached between Teamsters Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance in 2001, Transport Canada says.

Last year, the Canadian Trucking Alliance tried to get the Council of Ministers to extend the daily on-duty working window two extra hours. While it wouldn't have allowed drivers any more on-road time, it would have allowed drivers additional available time to cope with delays, CTA argued. However, the Alliance backed off the proposal after several mainstream news outlets misrepresented the group's position.

Owner-operator groups and some unions also voiced their opposition, arguing the extra two-hours would have given carriers an excuse to keep their drivers working longer days.

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