Canadian truckers critical of U.S. hours of service

| Monday, December 11, 2006

A survey conducted by a pair of Canadian trucking publications revealed a significant dislike of the U.S. hours-of-service regulations by Canadian truckers - largely because they do not think the rules promote safety.

"The hours-of-service rules are supposed to be about safety, right? Seems odd then, that a large majority of the drivers who responded to an exclusive HOS survey Today's Trucking and highwaySTAR conducted over the past few months said they didn't feel safety had been enhanced by the new, more restrictive rules that went into effect in 2004 south of the border," the publications reported recently.

The publications reported some very telling responses by Canadian truckers to the survey.

For example, when asked if the American HOS regulations made trucking safer, only 18 of the 123 respondents agreed - a slim 14 percent. In contract, however, 90 truckers responding, or 73 percent did not think the current HOS regs make trucking safer. A handful did not respond to that question.

The Canadian truckers were very critical of the current regulations and many responded that healthy eating and sleeping habits have suffered because of the rigidness of the regs.

A majority of the truckers surveyed, 57 percent, said the rules have changed eating habits for the worse, versus 10 percent who said they had improved. One-third of respondents said their eating habits had not changed.

Nearly half the drivers polled by Today's Trucking and highwayStar, 48.7 percent, reported that despite having more hours off in the day, they're getting less sleep.

"Many suggested in the voluntary comments section that they prefer sleeping in shorter intervals (splitting sleeper time) rather than a solid block of eight or 10 hours. And when you can't sleep, you can't sleep. As one driver put it, 'I'm tired of the law telling me when I'm tired. I can't go into the bunk when I'm not ready, otherwise, I just lie there and stare at the ceiling,' " the publications reported.

And, according to the survey results reported, most respondents, 58 percent, disagreed either somewhat or strongly with the statement: "I'm getting more rest and feel less tired under the current American HOS than under the previous rules." Only 20 percent agreed; 17 percent had no opinion.

The survey also delved into how those surveyed spend their time and how they log their time.

The following is a breakdown of the "time on task" question Today's Trucking and highwayStar posed and the average results:

  • How many hours would you log as driving time? 48 hours
  • How many hours would you spend engaged in some activity officially designated as on-duty/not driving? 14.3 hours
  • How many hours would you indicate on your log (line four) that you spend on-duty/not driving? 8.3 hours
  • How many hours would you say are wasted, that is, spent "on-duty/not driving", but unpaid? 10.9 hours

The publications also asked the truckers surveyed if they "adjust your logbook to make some wasted time appear as sleeper or off-duty time to extend your available driving hours?" An overwhelming 83.7 percent reported "adjusting" their logbooks. If they didn't adjust their logbooks, those drivers reported they would lose an average of 11.2 hours of driving time a week.

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