Earlier this week, Melanie Vanstone, the director general of multimodal and road safety programmes at Transport Canada, announced an exemption for service rig drivers from having to fill out daily driving logs.
The announcement specifically says that Vanstone has exempted “extra-provincial truck motor carriers and their commercial vehicle drivers, engaged in the operation of service rig packages, from having to maintain or fill out a record of duty status”.
This exemption applies to all drivers of service rig packages operating within, between, and through the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
Service rigs are large, heavy vehicles with mounted derricks that are used to service and maintain oil wells.
According to Vanstone, service rig packages operate within a limited radius or within recognized oil and gas fields, and as such travels short distances on highway. Plus, she claims that they typically spends 95% of their total operating time stationary.
Any motor carriers operating a service rig, according to the announcement, will still have to follow several restrictions, including notifying the provincial director of the base jurisdiction that they intend to operate under this exemption and give that director the vehicles involved in transportation, the licence plate numbers of those vehicles, and the names and drivers licences of all those operating the vehicles.
Each of those drivers will need a driver’s abstract (recent within the last year), and a copy of the exemption and any acknowledgement letter of intention will need to be in the vehicles transporting the service rig.
In place of the usual record of duty status, the service rig manager must fill out a tour sheet each day, which is supposed to account for both on-duty and off-duty time for each driver of the service rig package vehicle.
According to the exemption, drivers aren’t supposed defer any off-duty time to the next day, nor are they supposed to split off-duty time. And since the driver doesn’t have to log their hours every day anymore, I guess we have to trust the service rig manager to accurately track the tour sheet each day.
One commercial driver I talked to is worried that this may lead to drivers being overworked. According to this driver, “Often rig moves would exceed the maximum 15 hours. Especially if longer moves.” The driver said this is particularly the case when “the total daily time on shift is exceeded (not necessarily driving).”
The driver claimed that “staging and loading is coordinating chaos. And because of pilot trucks and convoy length rules etc they all have to head out at specific times and not leave at end till safe to do so.” As well, “running out of hours 15 km from designated stop is not an option”.
He is also worried that this might be setting a precedent.
“The optics of how this was released to media has many seeing [this] as loophole for truckers to drive outside regulations.”
This new exemption was made possible by two years of lobbying by the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments.