If you’re in North America and are involved in commercial transport in any way, you’ve probably heard about the ELD mandate. It’s been in place in the U.S. since February 2016, and in Canada since June 2021. While each country’s mandates are similar, there are a few differences, which we’ll get into in a moment.
This rule doesn’t only affect professional transport companies— anyone who uses semis and other large vehicles to ship goods, those who operate commercial vehicles and transit companies (among others) must also comply. So just in case you weren’t sure what it all means for you, here’s what you need to know.
ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device. It is used in CMVs, or Commercial Motor Vehicles, to record driving time and other important information. Each ELD consists of a device that is installed in the vehicle to gather data, a mobile app that drivers use while in the vehicle, and fleet management software that captures the information in the vehicle owner’s office.
Transport authorities in North America realized that extended driving time affects the decision-making abilities and alertness of drivers. The longer they are behind the wheel without a break, the more dangerous it becomes for them to be on the road.
So, they created rules that required electronic logging on these vehicles, to ensure that drivers weren’t exceeding safe driving time regulations.
The ELD monitors the engine of the vehicle, tracking how long it is running. This ties in with individual driver apps on mobile devices, recording how long each driver is in the vehicle. This information is then recorded in real time, which means that fleet managers will know as soon as any driver exceeds the allowed driving time.
Safety regulations are good for everyone, and most reputable companies already have policies in place about how long drivers can be behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, there have also been some bad actors in the past. Some have been solo owner drivers who have gone well beyond recommended driving time guidelines in order to increase their profits. Others have been trucking companies that have allowed or required their drivers to exceed the regulations.
In some cases, these breaches of health and safety guidelines have resulted in accidents. Some of those have caused catastrophic damage or loss of life.
Government agencies and transport authorities brought in ELD mandates to legally require monitoring of compliance with safety regulations. The mandates ensure that there is a record of all driving time logged on any vehicle, and for any driver. Which means that if something goes wrong, officials have easy access to compliance data.
Because ELD mandates require companies to use third party services for ELD tracking, there’s very little chance that this information can be tampered with. In a nutshell, the ELD mandate exists to ensure that companies maintain safe driving practices, to keep their drivers, vehicles and the public safe.
The ELD mandates in the U.S. and Canada are very similar. This makes sense, because, as close trading partners, there is a steady stream of commercial vehicles delivering shipments across the border. But there are a few differences that should be noted by companies on both sides of the border.
The first important difference is that unlike the U.S., Canada limits the distance allowable for personal conveyance in a 24-hour period to seventy-five kilometers. As soon as a driver surpasses this limit, the ELD should switch to driving.
This means that drivers who use their vehicles to get to and from work have a limit on the distance they can class as personal travel.
The U.S. does not currently have any limit on personal conveyance.
In the U.S. ELDs use GNIS (Geographic Names Information System) to get location data to record events in the ELD system. In Canada, the government provides this data to approved ELD vendors.
Geography and labor regulations in Canada are different to the U.S. So, while most of the basic requirements for both countries are similar, there are some additional rules for truckers who operate north of the border.
The first difference is duty cycles. In Canada, there are two duty cycles, known as 1 and 2. Cycle 1 is based on a 7-day work week, and limits on duty driving time to 70 hours per cycle. Cycle 2 is a 14-day cycle, and limits on duty driving time to 120 hours per cycle. The exception being when drivers take a 24-hour break, which reverts them to 70 hours for that part of the cycle.
Under normal circumstances, drivers must have a break of 36 consecutive hours for Cycle 1, and 72 for Cycle 2.
The 60th parallel rule is based on the fact that drivers who work north of the 60th parallel are more likely to experience dangerous fatigue sooner than those driving further south. This affects companies that operate in Canada’s northern territories.
Now that there is an ELD mandate in Canada, companies that supply approved ELD devices must make these changes to their systems. But, while the devices will be capable of recording data accordingly, only companies who work in these areas will be affected.
Of course, the ELD mandate ensures that most companies will stick to safe practices. But enforcement is still necessary to make sure everyone complies.
Enforcement rules in the U.S. and Canada are slightly different too. The U.S. requires more detailed logging, and reports must be submitted every eight days. In Canada, the logs are less detailed, and can be submitted every 14 days. They can also be submitted in PDF format.
There’s one more wrinkle in cross border ELD mandate compliance. Both the U.S. and Canada have regulations about which products and devices are acceptable.
In America, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains a list of approved products. In Canada, Transport Canada approves devices. However, by the time the mandate came into effect in early June, the list had not been released yet. This is causing some trouble with compliance.
There are several ELD options that are approved in the U.S. already, and are highly likely to make the final list in Canada. These include KeepTruckin ELD, Samsara ELD, GeoTab and Isaac. All of these have been operating in the driver tracking and geomatics space for a long time, and have sophisticated management options. They also easily integrate with the Rose Rocket TMS, so you can have all your visibility and compliance information in one tool.
There’s always some temptation to skirt rules. Especially when the rules make getting things done more complicated or costly. But it’s strongly recommended not to try to evade the ELD mandates in Canada and the U.S.
Fines for noncompliance with these ELD mandates are very high, and most apply per day of noncompliance. Non-compliant vehicles that cross the border could also face difficulty crossing or be denied entry to either country. In extreme cases, authorities have the option to place vehicles out of service for noncompliance.
There’s no denying that ELD mandates will complicate things for affected companies. But there is clear evidence that these safety regulations save lives and protect property. So even though there are cost and time implications to comply, it’s far better to make sure your fleet meets requirements.
The good news is that many ELDs are compatible with transport management systems, like Rose Rocket. When connected, the ELD and TMS can work together to lessen planning time, improve visibility for your customers, and improve utilization of your assets. Check out this page to learn more about the benefits of integrating an ELD with Rose Rocket.
Want to learn how Rose Rocket integrates with popular ELDs? Check out our integrations page for more info.