One of the biggest challenges for Canadian truck drivers is the ever more complicated Hours of Service Rules. We have to comply with different sets of HOS rules in Canada and the United States. The US FMCSA is finally implementing the new Hours of Service rules and we must be in compliance starting July 1, 2013.

The new rules tinker with a wide variety of rules concerning OTR and local drivers. There are two main changes that affect Canadian drivers into the United States – a new mandatory 30 minute off duty break and changes to the restart rule.

30 Minute Break

Drivers must take a 30 minute break, at a time of their choosing, within the previous 8 hours. As in you have an 8 hour clock that needs to reset with a 30 minute break. The 8 hour clock starts again after the 30 minute break. The 8 hours is running in real time like your 14 hour rule (and 16 hour in Canada).

The trick here is to schedule the break so you don’t require multiple breaks in a day. Let’s say, for example, you take a break one and a half hours in to your shift, you’ll need another one if you are working more than 10 hours (real time). Note that there is no change to extend the 14 hour rule at all, so tick tock.

This is a simple rule which shouldn’t cause too much problems. Generally we can find ways to take 30 straight minutes off during a pick and delivery day.

New Restart Provisions

In order for a 34-hour restart to be a “valid” restart, drivers using a restart must ensure that it includes two back-to-back nighttime rest periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

The new rules also restrict restarts to once per week. More specifically 168 hours need to pass from the beginning of the previous restart.

Not to confuse this more, but if you take more than one restart within that period, you need to declare which one is the “valid” restart. The other non-valid restart no longer resets your hours to zero. This means if you are looking to restart again, and if you’ll be out of compliance with your 60 or 70 hour counting the hours before and after your first restart, you can’t restart again.

For all practical purposes restarts will be longer than 34 hours to include two arbitrary periods from 1am – 5am. However, restarting is optional. You are not required to restart your hours and this didn’t exist before the over hauled the rules the last time. You can run within your normal 60 and 70 hour duty cycles. Plus, Canadian drivers are required to take 24 hours off after 14 straight days (if running 70/7 cycle).

For drivers at Len Dubois Trucking the new rules shouldn’t cause many problems. We coordinate our fleet to run compliant with all safety laws and regulations. Our average run is 6 -8 days and a little planning will allow you to manage your HOS properly.

These new rules are intended to combat driver fatigue. Remember that you are responsible for safely operating the vehicle and getting the rest you require. Use your rest periods for exactly that – rest. Fatigued drivers are dangerous drivers.

Len Dubois drivers, if you have any questions about the new HOS Rules John is available to go over everything with you.

Check out our videos for the new Restart and 30 Break.