SPECIAL REPORT: Canada adopts new HOS regulations

| 11/30/2005

Truckers operating in Canada will have a new set of hours-of-service regulations to follow starting in 2007.

Highlights of the upcoming hours-of-service regulations include:

  • A reduction of the maximum driving time of 16 cumulative to a maximum of 13 hours in any 24 hour period;
  • An increase in the minimum off-duty time from eight to 10 hours;
  • A reduction of the daily on-duty time from 15 to 14 hours;
  • The option to choose one of two cycles - 70 hours in seven days or 120 hours in 14 days, but must reset hours to zero before switching cycles;
  • Truckers will be able to defer up to two hours of off-duty time to the following day; and
  • All drivers must retain logs and supporting documents for 14 days.

Overall, the 2007 regs will offer truckers operating in Canada more options, giving them more flexibility than the hours-of-service regs governing driving in the U.S., according to Rick Craig, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs.

"It's important for truckers crossing the border to be aware of some of the significant differences between the U.S. and Canadian regulations," Craig said. "That's the case now and will continue to be when the new Canadian rules go into effect January of 2007."

Off-duty time
Under the new Canadian regulations, truckers will be required to have at least 10 hours of off-duty time in any 24-hour period. However, only eight hours must be taken consecutively. The additional two hours may be taken separately and may be taken in increments of no less than 30 minutes.

Truckers will not be able to drive if 16 hours has elapsed between the end of one eight-hour break and the beginning of the next eight-hour break.

While truckers will only have 14 hours of on-duty time, they may break up the 14 hours with the off-duty breaks of no less than 30 minutes and totaling no more than two hours throughout the day - keeping a 16-hour limit on the time between eight-hour off-duty breaks.

Deferring off-duty time
Truckers will be able to defer up to two additional hours of off-duty time to the following day. However, the following restrictions apply:

  • The time being deferred cannot be part of the mandatory consecutive eight-hour break;
  • The total off-duty time taken in the two days is at least 20 hours;
  • The off-duty time deferred is added to the eight consecutive hours of off-duty time taken in the second day;
  • Total driving time in the two days does not exceed 26 hours; and
  • There is a declaration in the "remarks" section of the logbook clearly stating that the driver is deferring off-duty time and stating whether the driver is in day one or day two of the deferment.

Pick a cycle
The 2007 hours of service will eliminate one of the three available "cycles" truckers can now operate.

Once the new Canadian regs are in effect, truckers will only have the option of driving under one of two different cycles - Cycle 1 which is 70 hours of on-duty time in seven days or Cycle 2 which is 120 hours in 14 days.

Truckers operating in Canada will also have to designate on their logbooks which cycle they are operating under.

Any trucker who wants to change from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2 must first complete a 36-hour reset. Truckers changing from Cycle 2 to Cycle 1 face a mandatory 72-hour cycle reset.

Another trick to operating under Cycle 2 is that truckers cannot have more than 70 hours of on-duty time without taking at least 24 hours off-duty.

Truckers who cap out on hours while driving in Canada after the new rules go into effect will have reset options available to them, much like the U.S. hours-of-service regs allow.

A trucker who maxes out on hours under Cycle 1 - 70 hours in seven days - will be able to reset with 36 consecutive hours of off-duty time. A trucker who is out of hours working in Cycle 2 - 120 hours in 14 days - will be able to reset with 72 consecutive hours of off-duty time.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems truckers who have been running in the U.S. could encounter when crossing the border to go to Canada is the amount of time needed to reset. Under the U.S. regs, a trucker can reset with 34 hours of continuous off-duty time. Canadian regs require 36 hours under Cycle 1 - the cycle that most closely mimics the U.S. 70 hours in eight days.

"If you take a 34-hour restart before you cross the border heading into Canada, you will be out of compliance after you cross the border unless you have hours available on your recap," Craig said. "And you won't just owe the additional two hours, you will have to take the full 36 because it has to be continuous."

Craig suggests that any trucker driving in the U.S. and out of weekly hours, in need of a reset and getting ready to head into Canada go ahead and take the Canadian required 36-hour restart to guarantee compliance with the Canadian regulations.

"And, obviously, if you have reset while driving in Canada with the 36-hour restart, you will be in full compliance with the U.S. regs once you cross the border," he added.

More logbooking
Truckers who drive in Canada will have to produce 14 days worth of log book sheets as opposed to the seven days of documentation.

Additional documentation required on logbook sheets under the Canadian rules are the designation of Cycle 1 or Cycle 2 and the notation of deferring any off-duty time to the next day.

Split sleeper berth
Single truckers will have the option when driving in Canada to split their sleeper-berth time so long as neither of the two periods is less than two hours.

"The split-sleeper berth provision for single drivers in the 2007 Canadian rules is like the way it used to be in the U.S. regs," Craig explained.

However, team drivers operating in Canada are afforded more flexibility with a special team driver provision included in the new rule.

Neither of the off-duty periods can be less than four hours. The total of the two periods of off-duty time must be at least eight hours.

Driving time is calculated by totaling the driving time before and after each period of off-duty time. It cannot exceed 13 hours.

Special provisions
The 2007 Canadian Hours of Service regs also include special provisions for truckers driving north of 60 degrees latitude, which outlines variances on the allowed on-duty and off-duty time.

Truckers who will have to hitch a ride on a ferry will also want to check out the off-duty provisions afforded to them.

More questions?
Transport Canada will spend the time before the 2007 regulations actually go into effect to develop Q&As on the various applications of the regulations.

The complete 2007 Canadian Hours of Service can be found here:canadagazette.gc.ca/partII/2005/20051116/html/sor313-e.html.

By Jami Jones, senior editor