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Hours of Service, Exceptions, and Provincial Rules

With the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate coming to Canada in June of 2021, Hours of Service (HOS) rules and regulations are a hot-button topic for commercial motor vehicle carriers and drivers across the country.

Understanding HOS rules, exceptions, and how ELDs fit into it all is going to become increasingly important for drivers and fleet operators alike as the mandate draws closer.

Federal HOS Regulations

It’s probably safe to assume that most commercial motor carriers and drivers are familiar with Canada’s federal Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations – or at least the specifics that apply to them, and what their individual responsibilities are.

Designed to minimize fatigued driving by standardizing the number of hours an individual can operate a commercial vehicle, the Federal HOS regulations require drivers to track and monitor their time spent behind the wheel. While this has traditionally been done using a paper logbook, Canada’s government has now followed the lead of the United States and will soon require ELDs to replace the old system of paperwork.

In theory, mandating ELDs makes sense for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that ELDs will make the tracking and recording of driver’s time automatic, reducing inaccurate and falsified logs, while also providing some reprieve from the daily paperwork drivers and administrators are used to.

Automated HOS tracking isn’t without its own challenges though. One common concern among drivers and fleet operators is how ELDs will handle the nuances of Canada’s regulations, including specific exceptions and provincial rule sets.

HOS Exceptions

Canada’s federal HOS legislation applies to commercial vehicles that fit a relatively broad definition, including:

  • Extra-provincial undertakings
  • Trucks registered for more than 4,500 kg
  • Buses with a seating capacity of more than 10.

However, as with many rules and laws, there are exceptions to that definition. For example, emergency vehicles and two or three-axle commercial vehicles being used for transporting the primary products of a farm, forest, sea or lake, if the driver or the motor carrier is the producer of the products are not subject to federal HOS laws.

Additionally, when it comes to the upcoming ELD mandate, there are other exceptions to be considered. Vehicles that fall under one (or more) of these categories are exempt from the ELD mandate.

Vehicles exempt include those which are:

  • operated by a motor carrier to which an exemption has been issued under the Act;
  • the subject of a rental agreement of no longer than 30 days that is not an extended or renewed rental of the same vehicle; or
  • manufactured before the model year 2000.

Beyond these stated exceptions and exemptions, HOS rules become even more clouded for some drivers and carriers that are provincially regulated.

Alberta HOS Rules

Alberta is a unique case in Canada – the province has a specific set of HOS rules that take precedence over federal legislation if the fleet operates in Alberta only.

According to Section 2 of the Alberta Drivers Hours of Service Regulation (AR 317/2002), provincial drivers’ hours of service regulations apply to drivers of:

  • Commercial vehicles that are registered for a gross vehicle weight of 11,794 kg or more and that operate only within Alberta.
  • Commercial vehicles with a manufacturer’s seating capacity originally designed for 11 or more persons, including the driver, that operate only within Alberta.

Carriers and drivers may be regulated by the above provincial HOS rules, or by the federal rules, but not both. Essentially, it comes down to “Carriers who operate all of their regulated vehicles only in Alberta are provincially regulated. This means they must follow the Alberta drivers’ hours of service laws.”

It is up to drivers and carriers to know which regulations they must follow in order to remain compliant, and although there are similarities between Alberta’s rules and those for the rest of Canada, there are some key differences – the main difference being that:

“The Alberta regulations do NOT include any daily limits or cycle limits like in the federal regulations.”

In the past, these variances were not necessarily an issue. Drivers, administrators, and fleet operators were familiar with the rules that applied to them, and stuck to them.

However, for drivers and carriers who have been operating under specific rules and regulations, the mandated switch to ELDs can be concerning. Relying on technology to ensure compliance can raise questions when it comes to all the various exemptions, exceptions, and rule sets.

Ensure HOS Compliance with Titan GPS

As the June 2021 ELD mandate deadline approaches, every commercial vehicle that currently uses a traditional paper logbook will need to implement an ELD solution.

While various options exist to ensure ELD compliance, not all are built the same. Titan GPS is one of the only ELD systems in all of Canada that supports the Alberta provincial HOS rule set – meaning drivers and carriers do not need to do any additional calculations or worry about receiving federal HOS violations while running under the Alberta Provincial Cycle.

The Titan GPS ELD solution is purpose-built to meet and exceed the needs of commercial vehicle carriers across North America. Each dedicated fleet management consultant at Titan GPS is well-versed and up-to-date on current and upcoming legislation, HOS expectations, and exemptions, and the GPS and ELD hardware options available to fit any fleet’s unique needs.

We can help you determine what you need to ensure compliance across your entire fleet, regardless of where you operate. Request a quote today and our experts will work with you to build the right solution.

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