Personal Conveyance – Can Canadians Use it Legally?

A little over a year ago, the FMCSA clarified the law regarding ‘Personal Conveyance’ (PC) in the USA. And with this new wording, it changed the use of PC significantly. The changes can be a massive benefit to drivers. Just enormous benefits!

So, what did the FMCSA allow? Let me paraphrase it this way: When a driver needs to move the truck, trailer and load while being off duty, they can. They can move the unit to the nearest point of safety.

This is easily demonstrated by an example. A driver is at a receiver’s facility and goes off-duty in the receiver’s yard. The driver heads into the bunk and goes to sleep. Three hours into the ten hours of off duty, there is now a knock on the door and the driver is told that the company is locking up the gate and that they must move their truck.

If you know about the personal conveyance rule for the USA, you might think, okay, I will move to a truck stop just thirty minutes down the road. It is the closest safe location for me, my truck and cargo. And off you go. You mark this as PC in your ELD. In this way, you remain in the off-duty area of the Hours of Service. You get to the truck stop and you go back into your sleeper-berth for the remaining six and a half hours. This completes your ten hours off-duty. You are legal in the United States.

But what happens when that same driver crosses the border into Canada? Is that driver legal here in Canada after having used the Personal Conveyance rule in the USA?

I hate to tell you, but in the above example, when that driver gets into Canada, he/she could be put out of service (OOS). Ugh!

Since the PC USA rule was changed, I thought the example above was legal in the United States and in Canada. But I was wrong. Here is the problem and what the Canadian enforcement officers see. The enforcement people in Canada don’t recognize this use of Personal Conveyance that is legal in the USA. That thirty-minute drive to the truck stop, by Canadian rules, is not off-duty! It is viewed or ruled as ‘driving’ which, of course, is on-duty and it broke up the driver’s 10-hour of off-duty period. Do you see what the enforcement officer is seeing? This is not pretty! If you use the PC rule while in the USA, as in the above example, you are not legal when you are back in Canada!

So, can a driver legally use PC in the USA and be legal in Canada as well? I asked a Director for the MTO this question. The answer is no! The response was that you could use “Personal Use” as we Canadians call it, but this means bobtail only; no trailer and no cargo. Well, in the above example, you are not going to leave your trailer behind so the move to the truck stop would be illegal. The enforcement officer told me that they would look at today’s logbook and go back fourteen days.

Is there any way that a driver can use PC in the USA and then follow the rules while in Canada?

I believe that with a slight variation to the above example, a driver might be able to make it legal. But it involves a sacrifice. My suggestion is a little complicated, it involves using the Canadian Split Sleeper-berth rule. In the above example, you are in your sleeper-berth for three hours, drive for thirty minutes and then you must go back into your sleeper-berth for not just six and a half hours but, you go back in for a complete seven hours. That is the sacrifice. This costs you thirty extra minutes. Not the best solution, but it is the only one that I can think of.

The best thing for a Canadian driver to do is not to use the Personal Conveyance rule while in the United States. It is difficult to be legal in Canada if you do use the PC law in the USA, then use it as the Canadian law says: Personal Use. I don’t know of any drivers that have tried my sleeper-berth example, but I have heard of many tickets being written and drivers being put out of service here in Canada when they use the PC rule in the USA.

So, it is best to avoid using it while in the USA. It will make your driving life more complicated and who needs more complications in their world?

Let me know what you think? If you have successfully used the sleeper-berth example, please let me know that too.

Be safe, and legal!

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.