Eld Differences: Canada vs USA

Let’s start with the similarities – there are a few. The actual laws governing the Hours of Service have not changed in the USA and Canada. You still need to accumulate 10 hours off-duty each day. Within both countries, you can only work 14-hours per day. In the USA you can drive 11 hours in your shift and of course, in Canada you can drive 13 hours in your day. As stated, the actual laws governing the Hours of Service have not changed but the thing that did change is that in many cases, the paper logs must now be kept in an electronic format or an Electronic Logging Devices (ELD’s). What are some of the differences between the two countries? There are two major areas that are significantly different.

The first one is that in the USA, ELDs are self-certified. This means any manufacturer of an ELD promises the USA Government that their device does exactly what the FMCSA has mandated it to do. Well, let’s just say this didn’t work so well. It is estimated that somewhere between 25% and 50% of the devices on the ‘Approved’ list don’t do what the law says that they are to do. And please take note, the lawyers know which devices don’t do what they are supposed to do as well. So, this still creates an unlevel playing field. The legal drivers and companies are still competing against the cheaters.

In Canada, we took a different approach. In Canada, every device must be submitted to a third party for certification. The fee for this certification is charged to the device manufacturer. And the fee is not cheap. This fee and third-party certification have done a few things: It has greatly reduced the amount of ELD’s available to Canadian trucking companies (and to the USA carriers that come into Canada) and it makes sure that the devices approved actually perform to Transport Canada regulations.

The second area of difference is who is exempt from using an ELD? In the USA and Canada, short-haul drivers don’t have to use an ELD. In both countries, trucks older than 2000 are exempt. For the USA only, also not required to have an ELD are agricultural, farm and livestock vehicles. Another USA-only exemption is for Drivers with 8 days of RODS (Record of Duty Status) in a 30-day period.

In Canada, the exemptions are quite different and there are fewer vehicles that don’t have to have an ELD. For example, agricultural, farm and livestock trucks must have an ELD. As in the USA trucks with an engine older than 2000 are not required to have an ELD. In Canada, the short-haul driver who operates within the 160 KM radius is not required to have an ELD in their truck. And that is about it in Canada for exemptions.

Canada has taken a stricter approach to the ELD rules. They have made many fewer exceptions and they mandated a 3rd party testing system to ensure that the approved devices do what they promise to do.

Now what is interesting to me are the ‘New Tickets’ that truck drivers are receiving in both countries. The regulations in both countries for what I’m about to outline next are very similar. Every Driver must carry and be able to give to an officer the following:

  • The ELD user manual
  • Instructions on how to transfer data from the ELD and how to transfer the driver’s hours of service to an inspector
  • Printed instructions on what to do if the ELD malfunctions and
  • Enough blank RODS (blank log sheets) so that the driver can record the information required under section
    82 for at least 15 days

I have seen many violations and convictions for Drivers not being able to show the officer one of these items. The above are the Canadian rules, and the USA regulations are very similar.

Drivers and carriers, please don’t make it easy for the officers to write you a violation. Make sure that you have and know where in your truck you can find the above items.

Keep safe on the road. 

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.