Is Transport Canada's 84-hour workweek safe?

Trucking Hours of Service, Debate rages in the US, Canada dark

On Dec. 2 reported: "Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Anne Ferro revealed that initial 2010 data on fatal truck crashes indicate truck crash fatalities have increased to nearly 4,000 people.  In 2009, 3,380 people were killed in truck crashes and 74,000 others were injured.

"Administrator Ferro released this information during her testimony on the pending truck driver hours of service (HOS) reforms before a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Wednesday, November 30th. … Under the current rule truck drivers can drive 77 hours a week and work up to 84 hours a week. Agency actions to revise the current HOS rule are the result of a legal agreement between the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and safety and labor groups while a lawsuit is held in abeyance," the advocacy group reported.

The previous limit in both Canada and the United States was 60 hours of driving time in a week.

On Jan. 1, 2007, Canada adopted National Safety Code Standard No. 9 (i.e. drive 77, work 84 is safe). In Canada there has been no debate. We don't have recent data. Our safety champion, Transport Canada, is also responsible for the economic well-being of the trucking industry. Transport Canada has kept this issue in-house which makes it easier to close truck inspection stations and ratchet down other road safety spending.

I've only been able to find one Canadian story this year about hours of service. Ironically it is based on US information

"A CBC analysis of the data from the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows some 4,800 Canadian carriers violated key parts of the hours of service and logbook rules in 2009 and 2010. Hundreds of carriers, based in every province but Newfoundland and Labrador, violated rules related to driver fatigue. … Data supplied to CBC News by Transport Canada indicates that Canada's fatality and injury rate in heavy truck collisions is higher than that of the U.S," CBC News reported on Feb. 13.

In the US last week, in response to Ferro's call for a shorter workweek, wrote:
"What are the true accident statistics?
Estimates of 41,000 to 45,000 traffic deaths occur every year within the U.S.
More than 80% of those accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver.
Fewer than 9% of those deaths involve commercial vehicles
Of those death related accidents, only 4% of trucks are fatigue related"

Allen Smith @askthetrucker wrote "Unless the (below listed) concerns are addressed, professional truck drivers will continue to face added work-load pressure to complete their scheduled pickups and deliveries and fatal crashes could increase:
Lack of adequate truck parking
Dispatchers pushing drivers to driver when they say they are either ill ortired.
Shippers and receivers holding drivers up at the docks for hours, cutting into their rest time.
Dispatch waking drivers up via qualcomm etc., to ask questions, failing to respect and abide by the HOS regulations.
Retaliation tactics from carrier if the drivers states he or she is too fatigued to drive"

It's time for Canadians to have this debate.