Canada and U.S. Personal Conveyance & Hours of Service Rules

Canada's recent ELD mandate adoption didn't change any HOS limits but it does get fleets talking.

Heather Ness - DOT Editor - J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

July 02 , 2019

We all know that Canada and the United States have different hours of service rules. And Canada’s hours of service regulations are often described as less restrictive than the U.S. hours of service. It’s true in general; in Canada, drivers are allowed slightly longer periods of driving without as much time off when compared to U.S. regulations. While Canada hasn’t changed any limits in its recent ELD mandate adoption, some of the discussions surrounding the primary differences between the two country’s rules have resurfaced.

One major area of discussion has been on the use of personal conveyance (PC) in Canada compared to the United States.

U.S. Guidance for Personal Conveyance

In the United States, a driver may record time operating a commercial vehicle for personal conveyance as off-duty only when the driver is relieved from all responsibility for performing work by the motor carrier, regardless of whether the vehicle is laden. Before this guidance was issued, drivers could only log “off duty” for personal conveyance if the vehicle was unladen. FMCSA’s personal conveyance guidance provides several scenarios in which the use of personal conveyance is allowed.

Canada’s Take on Personal Conveyance

In Canada, commercial drivers subject to the hours of service regulations are limited to 75 kilometers (47 miles) of personal conveyance per day (logged as off-duty) if the vehicle has been unloaded and trailers have been unhitched. The 75 kilometers is actual distance traveled, not radius distance. Drivers are also required to keep track of the personal conveyance starting and ending odometer readings and subtract that distance from the total distance traveled for the day.

Canadian Enforcement

For a U.S.-based driver operating into Canada with personal conveyance time logged, this time may present an issue. Personal conveyance in the United States does not always qualify as personal conveyance in Canada. An officer that sees personal conveyance on a driver’s record of duty status (for the current day or previous days) will first try to determine if the personal conveyance met Canada’s requirements.

If the officer determines that the personal conveyance time met Canada’s requirements, the time will be considered as off-duty time.

However, if the personal conveyance did not meet Canada’s requirements or the officer questioned it, then the officer would count the time as on-duty/driving and count the time towards the on-duty/driving/cycle time accordingly.

Areas of Concern

A driver from the United States with personal use time logged that does not meet the criteria for Canada’s personal use provision may bump up against his or her hours available in Canada, depending on the extent of personal use of a commercial vehicle prior to entering Canada.

As far as daily limits in Canada, a driver could approach the requirement to stop driving upon reaching the 14th on-duty hour in the day or workshift, as time spent in personal conveyance in the United States would then be counted towards driving or on-duty time for the day/workshift.

And because U.S.-based drivers are using ELDs upon operation into Canada, drivers should know that they may need to look back at previous days’ logs and manually calculate hours.

Cross-border carriers should take a closer look at their drivers’ personal conveyance time in the United States, especially if drivers are frequently using the U.S. personal conveyance allowances and regularly operating into Canada. Addressing the issue ahead of time can help avoid problems in Canada.


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