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Travels of a Trucker The Canadian Law on Driver Hours of Service

January 25, 2012

When you think as a driver who doesn’t drive a truck, you are probably under the impression that those big trucks can just drive whenever they want and as long as they want. Well far be it from the truth and I will set the record straight for you. Drivers in Canada much like their U.S. counterparts are regulated by the Federal Government in how long they can drive in any given 24 hour period and in any cycle of 70 hours in 7 days or 120 hours in 14 days. Now one would think that if the industry s regulated by the Government then drivers should be at least paid Government Yeah like that would ever happen. Give the Government an inch and they would squeeze a penny from it.

So really, and truly, the Government does have a finger in this slice of the pie. They regulate the industry. Here is how the law in Canada works.

A driver who has for example just started driving a new job. He would either be working the 70 hours in 7 day rule or the 120 hour in 14 day rule. In either case, he would be required to take 24 hours off when either reaching the 70 hours or just before to be able to continue driving again on the 70 hour or continuing his log on the 14 day rule. In order to reset a log book for fresh hours, a driver would have to take 36 consecutive hours off to reset the 70 hour rule or 72 hours to reset the 120 hour rule. Now given the 36 hours, it isn’t much at all. Consider that you’ve driven the whole day and it is night time. Now the sleep time your getting at home is calculated towards your 36 hours and the next day would be the 24 hour period. So essentially you would have only one day off even if it was an official 36 hours that started the previous night in which case you had to sleep anyways. Essentially you would be off one full day every week. So you;d be technically working 6 days a week and off for one day if you allowed an employer to work you like this with out a little time off. As for the other time, the 120 hours in 14 days, you would have to take off 72 hours. At least this one you would have almost 3 night and 4 days off before being allowed to drive again if you timed it right by getting home on a night time. Your first 12 hours would most likely be spent in bed, but after that you got 60 more to go!!

Consider though the time you spend away at trying to make these hours. Some employers are very crafty. They will lay you over for a pickup thereby resetting your driving hours or giving you the 24 hours off and you would be nowhere close to home allowing them to continue working you if you allowed them to do this. Other times, you could be stuck in a small town for an avalanche control for a couple of days resetting your hours. If not only you lost 2 days to Avalanche control and then went home for 36 hours, you would lose almost a $1000 out of a paycheque by staying home. So where is the incentive for a driver to remain legal at all? Certainly the Government doesn’t really care. They just want their taxes and audits to catch you underpaying and tax your ass some more.

There are a few hidden little rules here and there like deferral of your hours, but if you use this, essentially, you will be off for a further 2 hours the next day by utilizing it. Essentially if the weather is crappy and you are stuck on the road, you can use up to 2 hours provided you are not over on any of your given daily hours and 70 hour rule or 120 hour rule to get to a safe area. However, the next day you have to pay back the 2 hours in your sleeper berth.

So not only are there a set maximum hours of being able to drive, there is a daily limit also. A 24 hour period is defined as 12 to 12. And within that time period you can drive a maximum of 13 hours. You can be on duty for a maximum of 16 hours but you cannot drive after your 14th hour. So how does this work. Well lets just say as an easy example, you take 10 hours consecutive rest starting at 12am. So you arise at 10am. You would be legal to drive until 1am the next day, you could work until 3am the following day, but you could not drive past 2am the next day. Essentially they are taking into account some unloading time, fueling time, or other time which you need without affecting the distances you need to cover which are extreme. Driving from Calgary to Vancouver or from Vancouver to Edmonton in one shift is not uncommon. Or another distance, Calgary to Winnipeg covering almost 3 provinces in one day.

So let’s say you started at 8am. You could drive legally until 9pm if you drove straight for 13 hours. You would not be allowed to move after 10pm (your 14th hour) but you could be on duty until midnight doing other things. Traditionally most guys start early and end early unless they are doing switches or have a delivery appointment they must make.

But wait, there are further rules to follow. You also have to log all these hours. It wouldn’t be enough to keep track of them all alone and say to your employer I am out of hours. There is a log book which must be filled out and of course, the Government does audits of trucking companies to ensure the log books are filled out properly and i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. If during the audit the Government finds mistakes, the employer is penalized. The employer is required to keep a certain backlog of Logbooks for audit purposes. The driver must also maintain in his possession a copy of his logbooks which must be produced upon demand by a Peace Officer for the period of the previous 14 days which includes the day he is driving. Of course a lot of employers have now switched to electronic log books. These must be faxed or emailed to inspectors to print out on demand also if called into an inspection station or pulled over and the inspector requests to see them.

Not having log books is a huge fine and liable to be put out of service for a full 36-72 hours since they will base their decision based on if you tell them you drive 70/7 and no log book will put you out of service for 36 hours to reset plus face a fine. If you tell them you are running a 120/14 you could be put out of service for 72 hours plus a huge fine.

Anyways, readers you get the point. The transportation sector is a well oiled Pork Barrel Government money maker. Thanks for reading Travels of a Trucker. If you like my blogs, please follow along by email, or follow me on twitter:!/truckerofbc You can also follow me on my Facebook page:

If you are a sponsor, be sure to send me some samples, trial versions or test products. Send me an email for an address and if I like your product I will endorse it or do a giveaway on my blog.

Stay safe, drive safe and keep those wheels shiny side up!



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