The complete guide to the Canadian ELD mandate

The complete guide to the Canadian ELD mandate

The Canadian ELD mandate is just around the corner. Like the U.S. ELD mandate, the ELD mandate in Canada will require most commercial drivers to install compliant Electronic Logging Devices.

It’s important to fully understand the Canada ELD mandate and prepare for it ahead of the June 12, 2021, deadline.

In this detailed blog post, we will discuss the following aspects of the upcoming ELD mandate in Canada:

ELD mandate Canada explained

Although the Canadian version is like the U.S. ELD mandate, it’s still a complicated proceeding which you must understand. Non-compliance will cause hefty fines and out-of-service orders — both costly to the company and the driver.

To avoid delays and costly errors, let’s streamline it into easy-to-understand terms based on what we know today.

What is the purpose of ELDs?

If you listen to truckers discussing ELDs, you may assume they only track a driver’s Hours of Service (HOS) and nothing more, but they provide technology to help streamline workflow and communication.

An ELD is a piece of hardware that connects to the truck’s engine control module (ECM). It tracks HOS compliance, mandating both drivers and trucking companies to adhere to the strict rules put in place for the safety and health of those who use the roads. The days of recording hours on paper using a pen and ruler are gone. ELDs remove recording errors and illegal manipulation of driving hours.

An ELD can transfer its stored information to dispatch or DOT/MTO officers during an inspection. Police will be able to use the information for investigating an accident as it stores the information in a standardized format no one can alter.

ELD mandate Canada, ELDs, and Hours of Service

Regulations require drivers of most commercial motor vehicles to keep a record of duty status (RODS) and must use an ELD to show they follow the Hours of Service rules.

The Canadian ELD mandate does not change the Hours of Service rules already in place; it will monitor most drivers’ and carriers’ compliance with the rules by requiring the use of a certified Electronic Logging Device.

ELDs make enforcing compliance easier and level the playing field for all industries which rely on safe and efficient transportation of goods.

ELD mandate Canada: Cost vs. Benefits

Safety is not the only thing ELDs increase. Transport Canada has conducted research showing the benefits of an ELD outweigh the costs 2:1. You can find this in the Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 153, Number 12, SOR/2019-165.

These cost savings include:

  • Driver downtime
  • Quicker roadside inspections by enforcement officials
  • More efficient deliveries which will reduce customer costs

The Canadian Trucking Alliance, knowing the benefits these devices bring, has been lobbying for these devices for over 10 years.

How does the ELD mandate affect Canadian trucking companies?

Carriers in Canada that do not cross the border have been using Electronic Recording Devices under Section 83 or good old fashioned paper logs. Carriers who cross international borders likely already have ELDs installed as required by U.S. regulations and are using them. So, if your fleet is not using an ELD, you may need to quickly catch up before June of 2021 when Canada begins enforcement.

Avoid undue stress on your staff and drivers by using a device like the KeepTruckin fleet management software which allows drivers to transition from Canadian-based regulations to U.S. based regulations without worry.

Does the Canadian ELD mandate apply to you?

If you are a Canadian trucker or own a Canadian trucking company, you must prepare for the upcoming Canadian Electronic Logging Device mandate. Full implementation is set for June 12th, 2021.

The mandate requires that most fleets and commercial drivers in Canada transition from using outdated paper logs to computerized logs to track the driver’s hours. A third party will certify ELD devices to better ensure that the technical standards are met.

Canada ELD mandate exemptions

There are four main exemptions from ELDs. Commercial motor vehicles will be exempt if:

  • Operating under a permit from a provincial or territorial HOS director
  • Have a statutory exemption
  • Subject to a rental agreement of no longer than 30 days
  • The vehicle was manufactured before 2000

Differences and similarities with the U.S. ELD mandate

Canada used the U.S. mandate as a model and then customized it to fit its unique environment. The idea is to make the rules consistent with the U.S. mandate for fleets that operate in both Canada and the U.S.

Similarities between the U.S. and Canadian ELD mandate include:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are not changing.
  • Data retention: ELDs will have to put together and transfer an output file, and motor carriers will be required to keep drivers’ Records of Duty Status for six months.

Differences between the U.S. and Candian ELD mandate include:

  • Unlike the U.S. ELD mandate, the Canadian version does not have a grandfather provision for ERDs (like AOBRDs).
  • There is no driveaway-towaway exemption in the Canadian ELD mandate.
  • Unlike the U.S. ELD mandate, all Canadian ELDs will need to be certified by an accredited third-party that will test it against the Canadian standard.
  • Personal conveyance rules are different. Canadian regulations do not allow driving in personal conveyance beyond 75 kilometers in a day.

Travis Baskin, Head of KeepTruckin’s Regulatory Affairs, talked about the exemption rules.

He said, “For the Canadian regulation, drivers would use paper records of duty status if their vehicle was manufactured before the year 2000 or if they’re operating rental trucks for 30 days or less. But if those don’t apply, and you’re not running under a permit or exemption, you have to keep all of your RODS with an ELD.”

On the personal conveyance rules between the two countries, Travis Baskin said, “While there are no time or distance restrictions for personal conveyance in the U.S., Canadian regulations don’t allow folks to drive in personal conveyance beyond 75 kilometers, or about 46.6 miles, in a given day.”

ELD mandate outcomes that Canada can anticipate

As you might expect with a new mandate, the law of unintended consequences kicked in. Here are a few things that the U.S. experienced that Canada may have to look forward to:

  • Detention times unchanged. There was some expectation that ELDs might improve detention times. Those hopes have been mostly dashed as detention times have either not changed or gotten worse.
  • Parking shortages. Parking is again on the ATRI’s list of pressing concerns for truck drivers. No longer being able to go down the road, truckers have to stop, and it’s highlighting the lack of facilities for trucks to safely park. Truckers are reporting more stress over parking as they spend more time searching for space. This lack of space has forced many to park in unauthorized areas.
  • Better Hours of Service compliance. While the ELD mandate has had some unintended consequences in the U.S., it has at least achieved one of its main objectives — improving Hours of Service compliance. Hours of service violations were down from 1.31 percent in May 2017 to 0.64 percent in May 2018.
  • Roadside issues. For a while, there will be a learning period for enforcement personnel as well for drivers. Truckers may run into investigators who are not up to speed on what they should ask truckers to produce, so it’s important to prepare your drivers for that. Canada, while having its unique challenges, has an opportunity to take advantage of the lessons learned in the U.S. when implementing its own ELD mandate.

ELD mandate Canada: Implementation

Here’s an ELD mandate implementation checklist to help you stay compliant.

How to find a Canadian compliant ELD

Since Canada has not fully implemented its mandate, there are no certified Canadian ELDs on the market as of this publication. Since the Canadian ELD standard is substantially similar to the U.S. rules, Canadian ELDs will generally require a simple software update.

ELDs for the U.S. are self-certified by the manufacturer. In Canada, the requirement for certification is through a third party which ensures the devices comply with the technical standard.

Any U.S. operator coming into Canada would require their ELD provider get-government-approved certification to be legal in Canada.

How to pick the best ELD solution for your business

Choosing a fleet management solution is a big decision that will impact your business for years to come. The right solution can simplify operations, reduce costs, and accelerate growth. The wrong solution can cause unnecessary headaches, leave your business at-risk, and restrict growth.

Let’s walk through the main factors to consider when choosing a fleet management solution, such as installation, user experience, customer support, etc.

Key fleet management features to look for

Let’s start by breaking down the key fleet management features you should be aware of:

1) Compliance

Determining your compliance needs is an important place to start when evaluating fleet management software. Specifically, do you need to:

  1. Does your ELD solution comply with the Canadian ELD mandate?

Choose a solution that is certified by an accredited third party, reliable, easy for drivers to use, and offers Bluetooth and USB connectivity (to avoid the risk of cellular no coverage areas).

  1. Complete pre- and post-trip inspection reports?

Choose a solution with easy-to-use and customizable vehicle inspection forms.

  1. File International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) reports?

Choose a solution that tracks miles by jurisdiction, allows your drivers to upload fuel receipts, and integrates with your fuel card provider.

2) GPS tracking

While it sounds pretty straight-forward, GPS tracking functionality can vary widely. Here are a few questions to determine what you should be looking for:

  1. Do you have trailers, equipment, or other high-value assets?

Choose a solution that offers asset tracking as well as vehicle tracking. Being able to track everything from a single dashboard will save your team a lot of time.

  1. Do you frequently call or email customers with driver ETA updates?

Choose a solution that can automatically send ETA notifications.

  1. Do you need to know how long drivers or assets spend at a job site? Or when they arrive and leave a facility?

Choose a solution that includes geofence reporting and alerts. Beyond features, there are a few important details that determine how fleet management providers deliver on GPS tracking. You should look for a solution that:

  • Transmits GPS locations every 30 seconds, or better yet, based on changes in speed and bearing.
  • Includes high-speed WiFi at no additional cost to save on data expenses.
  • Provides historical GPS reporting for any point in the past. This is very useful for preventing after hour vehicle misuse and handling.

3) Safety

If you run a vehicle-based business, safety is top of mind. Here are the key safety features a fleet management solution should offer to reduce risk and make your fleet safer:

  • Real-time alerts for critical events such as harsh braking, hard corners, and speeding
  • Automatic categorization of the cause of the critical event, such as tailgating or improper lane changes
  • Customizable driver scorecards to easily identify your most dangerous drivers
  • A “coaching workflow” that allows you to track and document coaching efforts
  • Built-in dash cams that automatically capture footage of critical events
  • An ability to view dash cam footage in real-time and request videos from the past

4) Efficiency and performance

A fleet management solution should also help you reduce costs and improve efficiency by providing:

  • Idle time reports to identify excessive vehicle idling and reduce fuel usage
  • Asset utilization reports to identify assets that aren’t being used to their full potential
  • Vehicle diagnostic and fault code reports to prevent breakdowns and proactively plan maintenance

5) Driver communication and dispatch

A fleet management solution should also help your team streamline and centralize communication with:

  • Instant messaging to drivers with read receipts
  • Broadcast messages to all drivers or specific groups
  • The ability to send and store documents such as proof of delivery and receipts
  • Driver workflow/dispatch integration with customizable forms

6) Installation

While there are several installation methods, here are the two main ones:

  • Hardwired: The telematics device is wired directly to the vehicle’s onboard computer. This often requires drilling holes in your vehicle and a few mechanic hours.
  • Plug-and-play: The telematics device plugs into the vehicle’s diagnostic port. This generally takes a few minutes and doesn’t require a mechanic.

For some fleets, a hardwired installation process might not be too much of an issue. But, if you frequently lease or rent vehicles or plan on adding or upgrading vehicles in the future, this could be an unexpected ongoing expense and unnecessary complication.

Another consideration is that technology occasionally malfunctions. Even if the device is covered with a warranty, any vehicle downtime or mechanic costs will be paid by you.

A “plug-and-play” solution will likely save you a significant amount of money and operational headaches down the road.

7) User experience

Your team’s ability to use your fleet management solution will be one of the main factors that will determine your ROI. Choose a solution that is intuitive with a modern interface. Also, map out some common daily tasks your team will need to complete and walk through each task during your evaluation process.

You’ll likely find that solutions vary widely in this area. In fact, KeepTruckin was found to be 50% easier to use, according to an independent study.

But, don’t just review the user experience from the back office perspective. The driver app experience is essential to the successful adoption of a fleet management solution. Be sure to check the app store reviews to hear what real drivers have to say.

8) Support and reliability

You don’t need a product — you need a partner. When evaluating fleet management solutions, you need to go beyond the promises of the sales rep and verify that the company is following through on its promises to customers with a reliable product.

The easiest way to do this is to check online reviews. Some of the leading review sites for fleet management are Capterra, G2Crowd, and GetApp.

Additionally, customer support is an important factor to consider:

  • Do they offer 24/7 support? Your business doesn’t operate on bankers’ hours, and neither should your fleet management solution’s customer service.
  • What resources are available to ensure your success? Fleet management is a big investment. Be sure to ask how they will help you successfully implement and utilize their software.

9) Data vs. Insights

One of the big benefits of a fleet management solution is the data it provides on your operations. This data has the potential to reduce costs, prevent collisions, and so much more. But, there’s a catch.

It’s not the data itself that provides an ROI. It’s the insights that can be gathered from it. Many solutions simply present the data in a spreadsheet-like format. Unless you have a team of data scientists in-house, it could be challenging to find problems, trends, and opportunities.

Look for a solution that makes it easy to identify what is out of the ordinary and where your opportunities for optimization are.

10) Integrations

A fleet management solution should be a bridge—not an island. Being able to connect to other business systems can be a key driver of operational efficiency and can help unlock the full value of your data.

Look for a provider with a number of pre-built integrations. Additionally, look for a fleet management system with an open API. An open API means that if an integration doesn’t exist, you can create it with the help of a developer.

Even if you don’t have an immediate need to integrate, choosing a solution with the infrastructure in place to do so will open up opportunities in the future.

Make the right decision for your business

A fleet management solution is a significant investment, and there are many providers in the market. Choosing a solution can feel overwhelming at first, but by evaluating each option based on the criteria in this article, you’ll be well on your way to making an intelligent choice for your business.

Get ready for the Canadian ELD mandate

Don’t procrastinate. The effective date is June 12, 2021.

In the U.S., many owner-operators and motor carriers waited until the last minute to implement ELDs. Specifically, four months before the U.S. mandate kicked in, 67 percent of small fleets and 19 percent of large fleets had yet to fully integrate ELDs into their fleet operations.

Install and test your ELD

This may seem obvious, but people who waited until the last minute in the U.S. found out the hard way that not all ELDs work with every truck.

Your vendor should help you through the onboarding process. KeepTruckin, for example, has onboarding specialists (in addition to customer service managers) to help you define your goals, set a timeline, and avoid any obstacles during the transition.

Try KeepTruckin — the all-in-one fleet management platform

If you are looking for an all-in-one fleet management solution to comply with the Canadian ELD mandate and improve fleet efficiency and productivity, KeepTruckin is the perfect choice for you.

Here are some of the many fleet management features that KeepTruckin offers:

  • Vehicle Gateway. Plug the KeepTruckin ELD into your vehicles to track Hours of Service, driver locations and record vehicle diagnostics.
  • Smart Dashcam. Receive alerts and video footage of unsafe driving when it occurs (road facing or dual-facing). Improve fleet safety and exonerate innocent drivers with the KeepTruckin Smart Dashcam.
  • KeepTruckin Driver App. Stay in touch with drivers through messaging, easily log hours of service, and manage documents.
  • Web Dashboard. One central online portal where fleet managers have complete visibility on how the company operates in the field.

Request a free demo today to experience firsthand how KeepTruckin is helping fleets on both sides of the border with compliance, productivity, safety, and efficiency.

Case Study: Read how BDR, a Canadian long haul fleet, is simplifying fleet operations with KeepTruckin.


“Disclaimer: All content and information in this guide is for informational and educational purposes only, and does not constitute financial, business, or legal advice. Although KeepTruckin strives to provide accurate information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any professional, legal, business, and financial or tax-related decisions.”

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KeepTruckin Admin

KeepTruckin is on a mission to connect the world's trucks. With the leading ELD and fleet management platform, we are bringing the trucking industry online and fundamentally changing the way freight is moved on our roads.


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