Hours of Service – Laws & Logic
In the commercial transportation industry, there is a very fine and delicate balance between being as productive as possible and putting yourself or others in danger. When that line is crossed not only is the driver at risk, but so are the people on the roads around them. It is not uncommon to hear stories about drivers pushing themselves too hard without enough sleep, which resulted in an accident that touched the lives of many people. As a driver, it is critical to follow the hours of service rules to ensure you are staying within them, not only for your own safety but the safety of the people sharing the roads.
Below you will find three of the Canadian Hours of Service rules and the reasons why they matter:
1. No More than 13 Hours of Driving Time, or 14 Hours of On-duty Time in a Single Day
One of the legal requirements for drivers relates to the amount of time they are able to drive and be on-duty in a single day.
A driver is not allowed to drive for more than 13 hours in a calendar day, and an employer is not allowed to require or request that a driver drive more than those 13 hours in a day.
In addition, a driver cannot be on-duty (driving time, vehicle servicing, co-driving, loading or unloading, etc.) for more than 14 hours in a single calendar day.
Why it matters – sleep studies have found that significant periods of wakefulness reduce reaction time and make people perform significantly worse on tests of memory and skill. Staying awake or driving a vehicle for long periods without adequate rest and sleep is a recipe for an accident. Make sure you are getting rest and sleep every single day.
2. Drivers are Entitled to 8 Hours of Consecutive Rest Each Day
Every day a driver must have the opportunity to have 8 hours of consecutive rest. This means that if you drive for 13 hours or are on-duty for 14 hours of a day you need at least 8 hours of consecutive rest before you are legally allowed to drive or be on-duty again.
Your employer could provide you with more than 8 hours of consecutive rest, but they may not request or require you take less than 8 consecutive hours off.
Why it matters – The most common sleep recommendations for adults are around 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day. Employers must give their drivers the opportunity to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day. If they did not provide a break of at least 8 consecutive hours, then it would be impossible to sleep for 7 to 8 hours straight.
According to some studies, driving while sleep deprived can be MORE dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol.
3. At Least 2 Hours of Off-Duty Time Must also be Available in a Day
In each calendar day, which consists of 24 hours, a driver must be given at least 2 hours of rest time in addition to the 8 consecutive hours of consecutive rest mentioned above. The additional 2 hours of rest does not have to be provided consecutively and could be broken up throughout a workday into chunks of at least 30 minutes at a time.
Based on the three laws we have summarized you can see that in a 24 hour day at most 14 of those hours can be on-duty time, 2 hours have to be provided as rest time, but can be split throughout the day, and 8 more hours of rest must be given in a consecutive chunk.
Why it matters – Every employee needs time to eat and rest throughout their workday as well as having some time to rest and relax outside of the time they would be sleeping. This is important for maintaining mental health and keeping people happy and healthy. These breaks and rests are even more important when the employee is in control of a giant piece of equipment that weighs tens of thousands of pounds travelling at high speeds on the highways and city streets.
It may occasionally seem like these hours of service rules are preventing a driver from working all the jobs they want, or stopping a company from maximizing their growth, but these labor laws are extremely important to prevent abuse on the side of the employer and to inform drivers of their rights so they never feel pressured into putting themselves into a dangerous situation. These rules are in place to protect professional drivers as well as the members of public who share the roads.
Note: This article is meant for general awareness of select Hours of Service rules and why they matter and is not meant as legal advice.