Hours of Service changes coming in Canada and Europe

The current debate over truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) is not just a U.S. thing. Transport Canada (www.transportcanada.ca) — an agency that operates much like the U.S. Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) — has issued new rules that will change Canada's commercial vehicle drivers HOS regulations.

The rule changes will result in a reduction of the maximum daily driving time for drivers (reducing it by 19%, from 16 to 13 hours in a 24-hour period) and an increase in minimum off-duty time (up 25%, from 8 to 10 hours). Daily on-duty time will be reduced 12%, from 16 to 14 hours.

The new rules were published on November 16, 2005, and become effective on January 1, 2007. Canadian Trucking Alliance, the country's carrier association, as well as Teamsters Canada have been involved in the governmental process of creating the regulations.

Trevor Fridfinnson, director of operations of Bison Transport (www.bisontransport.com), one of Canada's largest truckload carriers, says his company is supportive of the rules. He observes that HOS regulations on both sides of the border have been moving closer together. What bothers him is that there doesn't seem to be uniform enforcement of the rules.

Abroad, there are proposed amendments to HOS rules for European Union drivers. At present, drivers may reduce required weekly rest of 45 hours to 36, if they return to their home depot, or 24 hours if they're away from home on consecutive weeks. This has meant that many drivers have been able to work a sixth morning in a week as overtime, often on Saturday.

Strong opposition to the proposed changes has come from the U.K.-based Freight Transport Association (FTA) (www.fta.co.uk), whose deputy chief executive, James Hookham, says, "We have warned Members of the European Parliament and our own transport ministers that they meddle with these regulations at their peril. Even small changes to rest periods could cause massive disruption to members' schedules and delivery operations."

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