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B.C.'s New Trucking Rules Deliver Headache

Changes require second driver on trucks using ferries

Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New rules designed to give long-haul truckers a decent rest are giving some short-haul drivers a major headache.

That's the word from Paul Landry, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, who said that new commercial driving regulations are a positive step for some drivers, but they're creating an entirely different set of problems for others -- particularly those who travel on BC Ferries between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

"Because there's two-and-a-half or three hours lost each way [during the ferry crossing], the productive time for that driver has diminished significantly," said Landry of the new rules, which went into effect May 1. "Those drivers are running out of hours. The company must decide to put another driver on, which doesn't make any sense [economically].

"There's a huge increase in cost for the carrier, and therefore the shipper, because the carrier would be broke in a month if he tries to pay for this. We also have a driver shortage, so doubling up in a truck is a poor use of a limited resource."

Under the new rules, drivers have a 16-hour window in which to do their work, which includes two hours for meal breaks and other rest periods. The maximum working time within a 24-hour period is 14 hours.

However, Landry said truck drivers who must use BC Ferries could have as much as six of their 14 hours lost to downtime during a two-way trip -- the time taken up by the ferry ride and the wait in lineups. Under the old rules, drivers could declare themselves off-duty during those dead hours, which would stop the clock on their shift. They can no longer do that.

The other problem area involves local drivers who operate in a 160-kilometre radius of their home base, who must log every delivery and every stop that occurs during their shift. A courier driver or delivery person who makes as many as 120 deliveries will have to log driving time, stop time, and resumption of driving for each delivery.

"That's a record-keeping nightmare," said Landry. "It's an impossible situation. We'd want to say, 'Go back to the old rule'."

Mark Zado, operations manager for Ryler Holdings, a Ladysmith-based trucking company that has 25 trucks going between Vancouver Island and Vancouver, said in an interview that the new rules are already creating problems.

"We've had to adjust, and it's extremely difficult. Guys are spending more time away from homes in their trucks. We've had instances in which drivers have run out of hours at the terminal, and slept there for eight hours before they go to work.

"We'll probably have to hire more trucks."

Wayne Deal, a dispatcher with Kingsley Trucking in Qualicum Beach, agreed. "My trucks are tied up a minimum of six hours a day with the ferries," Deal said. "The way things are going, it will take a lot longer to get things done, and rates will go up. In order to [meet the new rules], we'll have to put a second driver on every truck.

"Nobody can afford that."

Deal said it's not just the ferries that cause problems. His trucks often have to wait for long periods just to load and reload at suppliers, with several trucks ahead of them.

John Bourbonniere, general manager of the general freight trucking company Yellow Transportation Inc. of Burnaby, said in an interview his trucks make multiple deliveries throughout the Lower Mainland each day.

Drivers now have to fill out six items each shift: The date, start time, total on-duty hours, total driving hours, total-off duty hours, and finish time.

The extra paperwork is costing money, he added. "I don't see any value in this."

Despite such concerns, Andy Perry, owner of Perry Trucking Ltd. in Delta, said his three trucks haven't experienced any undue problems with the new rules, because the ferry reservation system allows them to book in advance.

"Our one saving grace is the opportunity to make reservations. We can gauge the amount of time it takes. It's not an issue."

Meanwhile, Larry Withrow of commercial vehicle safety and enforcement for the Peace region, told a group of drivers in northern B.C. the new regulations are about getting drivers into bed and sleeping.

"This is pretty much based on the fatigue factor," he said, adding that the new rules are focused on reducing the risk of fatigue-related commercial vehicle accidents on B.C. and Canadian highways.

But trucker Tom Barnes asked what would happen when he gets a call to haul parts out of town to fix a broken-down machine, and it takes 13 hours of driving alone to get to the site.

"Somewhere along the line, I have to go home, and it will be the last time I work for him," he said, pointing out that in that situation he wouldn't be hired back.

Trucker Marvin Kropp asked: "What happens if you're delayed on the road for six hours, coming out of a snowstorm or accident?"

Dawson Creek tow-truck driver Gary Landry said he doesn't know how small outfits are going to handle the new regulations.

"Towing is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We might as well shut down."

NEW REGULATIONS

16: Number of hours truckers have to do their work in a day.

2: Number of hours allotted for meal breaks and other rest periods.

14: Maximum number of hours allotted for working in a day.

13: Maximum number of hours a day that a driver can drive a truck.

10: Minimum number of hours drivers must take off work between shifts.

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