Updated December 2020
Heather Ness - DOT Editor - J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.
July 02 , 2019
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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.
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 PC if the vehicle was unladen. FMCSA’s guidance on PC provides several scenarios in which it's allowed.
In Canada, commercial drivers subject to the hours-of-service regulations are limited to 75 kilometers (47 miles) of PC per day (logged as off-duty) if the vehicle has been unloaded and trailers have been unhitched. The 75 kilometers is the actual distance traveled, not radius distance. Drivers are also required to keep track of PC starting and ending odometer readings and subtract that distance from the total distance traveled for the day.
For a U.S.-based driver operating into Canada with PC-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 PC on a driver’s record of duty status (for the current day or previous days) will first try to determine if its' use met Canada’s requirements.
If the officer determines that the use of PC met Canada’s requirements, that time will be considered as off-duty time.
However, if it did not meet Canada’s requirements or the officer questioned it, the officer would count the time as on-duty/driving and count the time towards the on-duty/driving/cycle time accordingly. The officer would not consider the log falsified, as the record was true and correct at the time when the driver was in the U.S.
A driver from the U.S. 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 work shift, as time spent in PC in the United States would then be counted towards driving or on-duty time for the day/work shift.
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’ PC time in the United States, especially if drivers are frequently using the U.S. PC allowances and regularly operating into Canada. Addressing the issue ahead of time can help avoid problems in Canada.
The Encompass® ELD mobile app currently supports Canadian and U.S. carriers with its border-crossing features and Canadian rule sets. The driver-friendly app works with iPhone® and Android™ devices, helping fleets who need on-the-go flexibility. Learn more.
This article was originally published in July 2019 and was updated on 12/11/2020.
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