Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers in Quebec
The trucking industry is a key player in the Quebec economy. In 2016, trucking accounted for one-third ($4.6 billion) of the overall transportation sector’s GDP.
The different industry players take this responsibility seriously and work hard to respect trucking industry regulations. This is particularly true of the transportation supervisors who oversee truck driver hours and schedules. These regulations, known as Hours of Service, are meant to guarantee the safety of both the truckers and the other drivers.
In this article, we’ll explain just how these hours of service are calculated in Quebec.
Who do these Hours of Service rules apply to?
Multiple different laws regulate driving hours for those operating heavy vehicles. Let’s take a closer look at who exactly is affected by these laws and which vehicles are considered to be “heavy.”
Professionals subject to these regulations
The Hours of Service rules apply to several different kinds of trucking industry professionals.
Heavy vehicle drivers and operators, shippers and shipping agencies must all comply with a set of predefined standards.
The government oversees these laws to ensure high-quality work and employee well-being.
Heavy vehicle definition
A road vehicle is considered a “heavy vehicle” when its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 4,500 kg or over. This includes trucks, road tractors, equipment transport vehicles and all vehicles transporting oversized goods.
A vehicle may also be considered a heavy vehicle if it is part of a combination of road vehicles, at least one of which has a GVWR of 4,500 kg or more. Tow trucks, e.g., are subject to this rule.
Vehicles that transport hazardous materials (i.e. those that require the display of warning signs) are also considered heavy goods vehicles. At Transport Econo Nord, safety is our top priority. When transporting explosives or any other heavy load, we take care to comply with the laws and regulations on driving times.
Note that buses and minibuses are considered heavy vehicles and must therefore respect the laws on driving and rest hours.
For more information, you can visit the Ministère des Transports website.
Some large vehicles are not considered heavy vehicles.
Caravans, motor homes, and certain utility vehicles like graders and loaders are not considered heavy vehicles.
Driving times, rest and break periods
Once they get behind the wheel, truck drivers must comply with strict rules regarding their break and rest periods.
The more hours they drive, the narrower the regulations. For a more detailed description, keep reading.
Maximum legal driving hours
A truck driver can drive up to 9 hours a day, but this can be extended to 10 hours a maximum of twice in 1 week.
Heavy truck drivers are prohibited from driving after accumulating 13 hours behind the wheel or after 14 hours of work including driving.
By definition, a break is a temporary interruption of work activity between the beginning and end of a work shift.
During the day, the driver must take 2 hours of break time, which can be taken all at once. If the driver does not wish to take the 2 hours consecutively, the break can be divided into periods of at least 30 minutes.
Rest periods (off-duty time) is defined as a continuous period of time after their work shift has ended. During rest hours, the driver is free to spend their time as they want.
Truck drivers must have at least 10 hours of rest every day. The 10 hours of rest taken by the driver include 8 hours of consecutive rest as well as the 2 hours of break time mentioned above.
How to calculate driving and rest hours
Truck drivers can use one of two cycles to calculate their driving and rest hours. However, they must inform their supervisor which formula they’re using so that the supervisor can design their schedules accordingly.
Cycle 1 is over a 7-day period.
If following cycle 1, the driver cannot drive once they have accumulated more than 70 hours on-duty time in these 7 days.
They can reset this cycle after 36 consecutive hours of off-duty (rest) time.
Cycle 2 is over a 14-day period.
If following cycle 2, the driver cannot drive once they have accumulated more than 120 hours on-duty time in these 14 days.
They can reset this cycle after 72 consecutive hours of off-duty (rest) time.
The employer’s obligations
Truck drivers must follow the work schedule set by their employers.
In turn, the work schedule must adhere to the laws at all times. The driver’s salary should not depend on the route or the quantity of goods transported.
To ensure compliance with these safety regulations, the employer must keep a logbook with information provided by the driver. Since June 2021, drivers and employers have had the option of using an electronic logging device to record this information. Regardless of the format, the logbook must contain:
- The number of daily driving hours
- The number of weekly driving hours
- Available hours
- Daily rest periods
- Weekly rest periods
The employee can request a copy of their register from their employer, who must then provide the document as soon as possible. The employer must keep this record for at least 3 years.
How does distance affect the Hours of Service?
Driving and rest times will naturally depend on the distances that the truck driver must travel.
Long distance transportation is the most complicated for employers and drivers to manage.
For example: A driver carrying out an LTL transportation between Canada and the United States will have to follow a carefully-planned route that respects the legal rest times.
At Transport Econo Nord, we always ensure that our drivers can complete their routes with full peace of mind.
Short distance LTL transportation is much easier to schedule.
The shorter the journey, the more relaxed the driver can be.
Whether they’re transporting goods between Montreal and Quebec or making residential deliveries, drivers and their employers can easily schedule driving hours that comply with the safety regulations.
Truck driver Hours of Service: A careful balancing act
On their own, these rules are easy enough to follow. The challenge is following all of them at once. The drivers of heavy vehicles must follow the regulations at all times and manage their time accordingly.
At Transport Econo Nord, we monitor our drivers closely and daily to ensure that these regulations are always respected. This commitment means we can offer our clients efficient, top-notch delivery services.
If you have any questions about driving times or want to enlist our services, contact our LTL transportation professionals. We can’t wait to hear from you!