The proposed guidelines are contained in discussion papers for a committee of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, scheduled to meet Nov. 8-9.
The proposal, designed to give drivers more opportunity to rest, would cut maximum daily limits by one hour and reduce cumulative hours from 104 to 84 over a seven-day period. If approved, federal and provincial regulations based on the standard could be drafted in the summer or fall of next year, possibly coming into force in 2001.
New daily limits would cap working time at 14 hours and increase mandatory off-duty time to 10 hours. The key here is that 14 plus 10 equals 24 hours: Research has shown that work rules should fit into the 24-hour clock if fatigue is to be minimized. The proposed rules do not distinguish between "on duty" and "driving" -- they simply limit the total work day to 14 hours.
Current regulations allow 15 hours on duty or 13 hours driving, followed by a minimum of eight hours off duty.
The proposal includes two planks that the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Canadian trucking industry's largest lobby group, pushed hard for: a "reset" provision, and the ability to average daily on-duty and off-duty time over a 48-hour period, with a requirement that the driver be off duty for at least 20 hours during that time.
This and other features of the proposal will allow more flexibility for drivers to rest when they feel tired -- not when the clock and their logbook demands it.