Our Two Cents

OBAC Seeks Change in HOS Proposal to Harmonize Cross-Border Trucking Rules

WELLAND, ONT. (November 7, 2003) – OBAC is calling upon the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) and Transport Canada to introduce a 'split-sleeper' exception to the proposed revisions to Canada's Hours of Service (HOS) rules. The 'split-sleeper' exception would allow drivers to procure the requisite 10 hours of daily rest in two intervals rather than in a single period of at least eight consecutive hours.

While OBAC basically supports the current Canadian proposal, it recognizes the inherent incompatibility with the American rules, slated to come into force on January 4, 2004. Those rules contain a split-sleeper exception, giving American drivers an added measure of flexibility on cross-border trips.

From a competitive standpoint, Canadians could be hurt by the lack of
downstream enforcement of the Canadian rules by American facility-audit teams. They certainly will not be enforcing Canadian rules, while Canadian facility auditors will be acutely aware of the potential for a violation on a cross-border trip, and thus likely to vigorously enforce the rules at the facility-audit stage. That threat, real or perceived, will leave Canadian drivers and owner-operators struggling with the need to comply versus the need to remain competitive with their southern counterparts.

That could put Canadian industry at a disadvantage, or, force Canadian carriers to break the law in order to retain their freight volumes. This would have serious consequences for OBAC members and all Canadian drivers and owner-operators.

“The current disparity is not a Canadian-made problem, but it will be Canada's to resolve,” said OBAC interim executive director, Leo Van Tuyl. “We would like to see CCMTA and Transport Canada re-examine the Canadian proposal with an eye toward adding a split-sleeper exception, similar to the current U.S. exception, to our rules before they reach Canada Gazette, Part II early in the new year.”

It is quite likely that Canadian drivers will take advantage of the exception while operating under the U.S. rules, but doing so will force them into border region truckstops by the thousands as they reset their sleeper time to the Canadian clock.

“The transition from one operating system to the other will create horrendous parking problems at those truckstops,” says Van Tuyl. “And the enforcement of the eight-hours-off rule in Canada could initiate a ticket-writing frenzy among Canadian border-region enforcement officials.”

Joanne Ritchie
Executive Director

Mike Smith
Director, Communications

Owner-Operator's Business Association of Canada (OBAC)
275 Slater Street, Suite 900
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5H9

Tel: 613-237-6222
Toll Free: 888-794-9990
Fax: 888-205-9991