Canada got it right

By Johanne Couture

As a Board Member of OOIDA, part of my responsibility is to share my experiences as a trucker, which I did at our fall meeting. Our guests from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration were Acting Administrator Scott Darling and Chief Safety Officer and Assistant Administrator Jack Van Steenburg. I gave them my point of view on restrictive U.S. hours-of-service regulations.

Being Canadian and running cross border, I get to see both sets of regulations, and quite frankly the Canadians got it right.

The Canadian rules allow flexibility and are more in line with the realities of everyday trucking. We can extend our day to 16 hours, can drive 13 hours, can split off-duty time between 8 hours sleeper/berth and 2 hours off-duty, which can be broken up in half-hour increments for meals, showers, washroom stops, those things that realistically occur during the day. We can also defer off-duty time to the next day, which also allows flexibility. Cycles are also different. We have a 70 hours in 7 days rule, or a 120 hours in 14 days rule. Reset rule is 36 hours.

When driving in the U.S., with limited truck parking availability and overly restrictive rules, we drivers try to manage our days and sleep in spots that make economical sense. In plain language, that means if I park at a morning delivery point to avoid rush hour traffic in the morning, I can't have a shower and breakfast before starting my day.

E-logs, in my opinion, have turned some into not so courteous, more aggressive drivers. They are plainly stressed out at the fact the clock is ticking away. There is more speeding through construction zones, aggressive impatient maneuvers, and driving too fast in truck stops and rest areas. This behavior has killed people. Someone getting run over in a truck stop was not heard of a few years back, but now it's a repetitive headline.

There is plenty of built-in stress in our profession; overly restrictive rules have created an unhealthy environment. The hours of service were created to protect the drivers, not put us in an adversarial position.

I urge FMCSA to clear their slate, and objectively look at Canada's hours-of-service rules, because the proof is in the lack of reproach from Canadian drivers operating under these flexible rules. LL