Canadians have just two years to get ready for their ELD mandate. American carriers currently...

Canadians have just two years to get ready for their ELD mandate. American carriers currently using ELDs will have to have their devices certified before operating in Canada. There are few guarantees that your current supplier can meet the Canadian requirements, or that the vendor will even try to certify in Canada.

Photos: Jim Park

As if you do not have enough on your Electronic Logging Device plate these days, Canada has recently released the Technical Standard for ELDs, and American carriers operating in that country will have to comply with its rules. The rule was adopted as law on June 12, but there will be a 24-month implementation period after which it will be fully enforceable, that is June 2021. During this period, each Canadian province and territory will to have to integrate the rules into their own regulations.

Prior to June 12, Canada had no technical standard or specific requirements governing the use of electronic recording devices for drivers' hours of service compliance, but there were some minimum guidelines for devices used there. The ELD technical standard that became law on in June and will govern the use of electronic recording devices for drivers' hours of service compliance will not be enforced in Canada until June 2021. Consequently, carriers remain free to use ELDs, automatic onboard recording devices or most other forms of electronic recording device while operating in Canada — or paper logs if they so choose.

Our HOS rules vary slightly from the Canadian rules, which are generally more liberal and offer more flexibility. For the most part, drivers operating in Canada but complying with U.S. rules, will be compliant in Canada. There are three significant exceptions to that train of thought: Canada requires drivers to retain 14 days of previous daily logs, not seven; Canada's reset provision requires 36 hours off duty; and Canada presently has no personal conveyance provision — that will change when the ELD rule comes into effect two years from now (more on this below).

That said, American drivers operating in Canada may drive according to the Canadian rules (if the carrier allows it), i.e., up to 13 hours of driving in a 14-hour day, but most U.S.-compliant ELDs would, today, show that as a violation unless the device has the Canadian rules built in.

For the time being, American carriers will have little to worry about while operating ELDs or AOBRDs in Canada, provided drivers understand the subtle differences in the basic rules. The Canadian HOS rules are not changing, but they are being rewritten to accommodate the use of ELDs.  So, what will change in 2021?

Differences in U.S. and Canadian ELD regulations.

Differences in U.S. and Canadian ELD regulations.

Canadian ELD Differences

Canada worked hard to harmonize the two sets of rules, but there are necessary differences. For obvious reasons, Canada's ELD rules will reflect the Canadian HOS rules, so any ELD used in Canada will need the Canadian rules baked in. This include but are not limited to off-duty time deferral, change in driver’s chosen duty cycle, changes in operating jurisdiction and inclusion of additional hours not recorded. These provisions affect the recording, processing and reporting of the driver's record of duty status. There are also provisions for the use of handheld devices, which may not be sync'd with the vehicle’s ECM included in the ELD technical specs.

"Their goal was to minimize the change management side of things," says Andy Oleson, a solutions engineer at Platform Science. "Obviously we don't want drivers to have to switch between two different applications. The vendors will have to support both rule sets and there should be some logic in there that detects when the truck has crossed the border so it can switch to the other rule set, or a really intuitive way for the driver to make the switch manually."

It should be noted that most of the differences we will see are all at the vendor level. Fleets will not have to do anything different from what they do today with respect to complying with Canadian rules — except for navigating the personal conveyance provision.

The big difference between the two sets of regulations has Canada requiring third-party certification of all devises to be used in Canada. Canada went this route to avoid the fiasco we are dealing with.

"The first thing American carriers will need to do is ensure they are already using an ELD that complies with all the current U.S. rules," says Adime Bonsi, a researcher at FPInnovations, parent company of the PIT Group. "With more than 450 self-certified ELD vendors currently registered on the FMCSA website, the burden of choice is on U.S. fleets to select compliant ELDs. In Canada, ELD certification will be done by an accredited, independent organization.

"Certified ELDs will be listed on Transport Canada's website and carriers can choose a supplier from the list of certified vendors," he adds.

Transport Canada has not yet named the parties that will be accredited for certification, but they must meet certain criteria when applying for job, including being ISO 17065 compliant. Vendors will have to pay to have their devices certified.

There will be no grandfather period for existing devices, AOBRD or ELD, when the regulation kicks in in June 2021. 

That worries Mike Millian, head of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.

“The PMTC is in agreement with the two-year compliance date, however we do have concerns with the removal of the grandfather clause that was posted in [the first version of the proposed rule],” he said.

"The removal of the grandfather clause may actually place fleets who implemented devices years prior to a mandate in a worse position than those who did nothing. These fleets will have to work with their suppliers and hope that the device they purchased can be updated to be third-party-certified, or replaced with new devices. As a certifying body has yet to be determined, they may have to wait to find out the status of their device, which reduces their lead time to plan a transition if their current device is not certified. That can be problematic and time-consuming if the device is integrated into back office systems."

Canadian trucks operating in the U.S. have had to comply with American ELD and AOBRD rules, just...

Canadian trucks operating in the U.S. have had to comply with American ELD and AOBRD rules, just like domestic carriers.

Data Transfer

Again, a vendor issue, not something fleets will need to be concerned about — as long as the device is certified. For the time being, Canada will not be using e-RODS. We have been told that e-RODS may come some later date, but it will not be required in the initial Canadian ELD roll-out.

Instead, the device should be capable of generating an electronic file output, which includes a pdf of what the inspection officer sees during roadside inspection (electronic version of the printout) and a data output file. In order to comply, the ELD must be capable of emailing the file to an address specified by the enforcement official using a unique identifier. Additionally, transfer of the log data to the officer can be done locally via a Bluetooth connection or physically with a USB-2 device. The later two methods are optional and not required for certification.

"Because there are vast swaths of Canada where cellular service or WiFi is simply not available, Transport Canada allows the data transfer to take place at a later point in time when the service is available, or made some other way, such as Bluetooth or USB-2," says Jean-Sebastien Bouchard, vice president of sales at Isaac Instruments, a leading Canadian ELD and telematics supplier. "At the very least, the device must be able to display the current and previous daily logs and connect to a central email portal using a unique identifier."

Again, these are vendor issues, not something the carrier will have to worry about. There will, however, be some additional training required for drivers so that they are familiar with ways to get data off the device that may be different from what's in play here now.

Personal Conveyance

Aside from the issue of third-party certification, the personal conveyance provisions are probably the most significant difference between the two countries' rules.

While the U.S. does not specify a maximum distance that can be driven while using PC (while meeting certain criteria), Canada imposes a 75-km (40-mile) limit on the distance driven under PC. The Canadian ELD will automatically switch back to driving if the 75-km limit is exceeded. Additionally, U.S. regs require the ELD to omit certain data parameters to protect driver privacy while under personal conveyance, notes Bonsi, but Canada always requires the full data set to be recorded.

As before, the vendors will have to work out the mechanics of the differences, but drivers will likely require some additional training on what they can and cannot do under PC in Canada.

The big difference between the two sets of regulations is Canada is requiring third-party...

The big difference between the two sets of regulations is Canada is requiring third-party certification of all devices to be used in Canada.

Other Differences

Use During a Malfunction: Canadian drivers may use paper daily logs for a maximum of 14 days or until they return to the home terminal from the currently planned trip, if the trip takes longer than 14 days. In the U.S., the driver’s hours of service can be recorded on a paper log for a maximum of 8 days after the malfunction.

Summary of Driver Hours: Canadian ELD are required to display available driver hours, but on the current shift and in the 7- or 14-day recap. This will become complicated when some of the special provisions such as the off-duty deferral are considered.

Additional provisions unique to Canada, such as the split-sleeper provision and driving north of the 60th parallel also have to be built into the device in order to comply with the Canadian rules and to be deemed compliant in Canada. 

The Ticking Clock

The timeline for the roll-out of the Canadian rule leaves just 24 months from enactment to implementation, including about 12 months until we see the list of first certified devices appear on the Transport Canada website.

"The application process for accreditation of certifying bodies is not fully defined yet," says Bonsi. "The Transport Canada literature suggests the accreditation and certification process will take about a year. PIT Group has been providing independent verification services to U.S. vendors for the past few years. Our experience so far suggests it takes about three to six weeks to thoroughly test and verify that a device is compliant with FMCSA’s technical specifications."

Vendors will have about a year to integrate the Canadian HOS rules into their devices before they are submitted for certification. That leaves the elapsed time between submission and approval — assuming all goes well — and carrier adoption at less than 12 months. In other words, some carriers could face some uncertainty over whether their devices will be approved in Canada by the June 2021 deadline.

"All existing ELDs and AOBRDs that can be updated to ELD status will have to be submitted for certification in Canada," stresses Bouchard. "Self-certification will not apply in Canada, and Canadian enforcement officials will verify that each ELD they encounter is on the certified list. If not, it will be in violation."

And don't lose sight of the fact that we are about to introduce potential changes to the U.S. HOS rules. ELD vendors will probably have their hands full supplying updates and revisions to the U.S. software once the new rules are officially adopted. Carriers operating in Canada should soon seek assurances from their ELD suppliers that they intend to meet the Canadian compliance date of June 2021.

About the author
Jim Park

Jim Park

Equipment Editor

A truck driver and owner-operator for 20 years before becoming a trucking journalist, Jim Park maintains his commercial driver’s license and brings a real-world perspective to Test Drives, as well as to features about equipment spec’ing and trends, maintenance and drivers. His On the Spot videos bring a new dimension to his trucking reporting. And he's the primary host of the HDT Talks Trucking videocast/podcast.

View Bio