Canadian, American trucking associations call for hours of work tolerance

by Canadian Shipper

The delays at border crossings following last week’s terrorist attacks in the US have led the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) to ask their respective federal governments for flexibility on hours-of-service enforcement.

Commercial drivers have been forced to sit as long as 24 hours in some cases at border crossings and thus exceeding their hours of work allowed.

“This is an entirely understandable state of affairs, as the U.S. must place its national security above any near term commercial considerations,” the request reads. “At the same time, President Bush has stated that the economy must continue to function, so that confidence in the country’s resolve to deal with the current crisis may be maintained.”

It went on to read, “Trade between Canada and the U.S. is integral to the effective functioning of both countries’ economies, and the trucking industry plays a crucial role in the flow of goods across our shared border.”

While, the commercial hours of work regulations of both countries provide some flexibility in emergency circumstances, even if a liberal interpretation of the regs does not provided adequate time to deal with the current situation.

“For example a two-hour extension to an on-duty period is of little help if a driver has already exceeded his maximum shift length by more than two hours while waiting to reach a Customs inspection point,” the fleet groups add.

Their proposed solution is an urgent policy shift to, “…allow a commercial driver caught in lengthy border delays to proceed within a 50 mile (80 km) perimeter of the point of entry, not exceeding two additional hours after having passed through customs and immigration entry procedures.”

Unless such extensions are granted, the associations say, drivers will find themselves in violation of the Hours-of-Service limits, either while waiting in line to cross the border or while on their way to a rest area, truck stop or hotel.

The request was sent to Julie Anna Cirillo, assistant administrator and chief safety officer of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and to William Elliott, assistant deputy minister, in charge of safety and security with Transport Canada.

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