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Trucking Rules (HOS): Canada vs. the United States

Like a well-told story, log books contain the information of truck drivers and the places they go. As a truck driver, your log book is an essential part of your workday, as it is how you schedule yourself and stay on top of any inspections which may occur. It can be tiresome having to log your hours or adhere to certain guidelines in place when driving, but these guidelines exist for safety purposes. Since truckers tend to go between the Canada and US border often, knowing the rules in each of these countries is also important. Truckers, take note: Canada and the United States have some minor differences in HOS trucking rules. When going from one to the other, you need to be aware of these differences in order to stay within legal (3)

On-Duty and Off-Duty Hours, Driving Cycles

Driving time: While U.S. regulations require drivers to work no more than 11 hours after 10 hours off, Canadian regulations call for up to 13 hours of driving each day after eight hours off.

On-Duty Hours: There are some minor differences in on-duty hours for Canada and US truckers. In the US, a break is required after 14 hours of driving. In Canada, however, you can’t drive after a 14 hour on duty period, following 8 hours off. The US does not have the 8 hour requirement.

The ELD also has to warn the driver they’re reaching the end of their permitted driving time, but this is only in Canada.

Off-Duty Hours: In Canada you get 8 hours off before driving for 10 hours, meanwhile in the US you get 10 hours off and during your shift you can get a 30 minute break after the 8th hour.

Shift Duration: The length of a shift also varies. Based on total elapsed time, in the US you can’t drive after completing 14 hours straight of driving, while in Canada you can’t drive after 16 hours straight.

Deferral: In Canada there is also a deferral rule, where you can defer up to 2 off-duty hours to the following day, under certain conditions. You can learn more about Canadian HOS here

Here is a quick summary of HOS rules for Canada vs. United States:

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Log Books

Both Canada and the US use a similar log book system to track hours. Total miles driven, date, vehicle number, carrier name, starting time, signature, shipping document number, shipper name, etc., are common for both. However, in Canada you do not require shipper’s name or a shipping document for your log book... as of yet! 

Special Exemptions

As of now, drivers in Canada can use up to 75km per day for personal use, logged as off-duty time for the day. The United States currently does not have this system or rule in place.

Moving your vehicle around a designated area such as a parking lot is permitted if the vehicle is going less than 32 km per hour, meaning it won’t go against your driving time. This is known as the yard move.

If weather conditions are poor or unstable, you can have up to 2 hours grace period of additional driving time for your log book. There are also interstate rules that count in the driving process. If you are transporting freight into the United States, you are only allowed to drop off, and then pick up any freight which may be coming back into Canada. It is illegal to transport loads between different states for Canadian drivers, meaning you have to return to Canada after your freight drop off is complete and can't be working interstate as a driver, within the US.

While these HOS rules may vary a little bit, they serve the same purpose in both countries; ensuring truckers drive safely.  Knowing these simple differences allows you to prepare, if you ever cross the border, or consider working in either country as a driver. Now that you are well versed in what is expected of you on either side of the border, you are less likely to break any rules or face any fines. 

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