The Canadian trucking industry is one of the most closely supervised sectors in the country, with regulations to keep its highways safe.

The Canada Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are among the most critical mandates. They minimize the number and gravity of trucking crashes by tackling driver fatigue.

Every federally regulated carrier and trucker must comply with the HOS rules. Below are some important details to keep in mind.

The regulation prevents driver fatigue and decreases the occurrence of road accidents. According to studies and estimates, 20% of fatal collisions in Canada involve driver fatigue. In Canada, traffic collision-related health care and lost productivity cost at least $10 billion annually. This represents about 1% of Canada’s annual Gross Domestic Product.

Canada HOS and the ELD mandate

  • Time savings for drivers and carrier clerical staff should maintain paper-based daily logs. This is for law enforcers to examine drivers’ record of duty status (RODS) and uncover possible violations. Combined, these net time savings are estimated to be around $280 million.
  • Eliminated paper logbook expenses can reach $11.1 million dollars (2017 present value). They also impact the environment. The ELD should follow the technical standards specified in the Canada ELD mandate by the Canadian Conference of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA). It should also be approved by authorized independent accreditation bodies. Drivers should switch from paper logs and electronic recording devices (ERDs) to ELDs on or before January 1, 2023. However, there are a few exemptions:
    • If drivers hold special permits by the federal or provincial HOS director for specific operations
    • If drivers use commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that were manufactured before the model year 2000, which are incompatible with ELDs

To be clear, the Canadian ELD mandate doesn’t replace the present federal HOS regulation.

Who is subject to the Canada Hours of Service regulation?

The Canadian HOS rules apply to all drivers who operate CMVs in Canada, except for those who operate:

  • Two- or three-axle commercial vehicles used for (1) delivering main produce from a farm, forest, sea, or lake, given that the driver is also the producer; and (2) a return trip after carrying the said products, granted that the vehicle is empty or is transporting products used in primary operations of a farm, forest, sea, or lake.
  • An emergency vehicle.
  • A vehicle used in providing relief in times of public welfare emergencies, as defined in the Emergencies Act.

Responsibilities of motor carriers, drivers, shippers, etc.

Section 4 of the Canada HOS rules outlines the responsibilities of motor carriers, drivers, shippers, consignees (or recipients), safety officers, dispatchers, and others. These rules help prevent driving fatigue and its repercussions.

They should stop commercial drivers from driving if:

  • Driving would jeopardize the safety or health of the public, the driver, or the motor carrier
  • The driver is under an “out of service (OOS)” declaration by law enforcers (for exceeding the allowed maximum number of driving hours in their cycle)
  • Doing so would render the drivers non-compliant with the HOS rules

Canada Hours of Service rules and requirements

Canadian motor carriers and drivers must comply with the driving hours or the day/work shift durations set by the federal HOS rules.

Here, a “day” is defined as a 24-hour period that begins at the hour designated by the motor carrier for the duration of the driver’s cycle.

Below are the rules and requirements for Canada trucking’s Hours of Service as they apply to those driving south of latitude 60°N. (Read more on drivers traveling north of latitude 60°N below.)

How long can drivers be on duty in Canada?

  1. Motor carriers shouldn’t request, require, or allow drivers to drive for more than 13 hours in a day or work shift.
  2. Drivers must not log a “driving” status for more than 13 hours. To drive again, they should be on “off-duty” status (which includes sleeper berth time) for eight hours straight.
  3. Drivers shouldn’t drive once they have 14 hours of “on-duty” periods (which includes “driving” and “on-duty not driving” statuses) in a day or work shift. Motor carriers must also not require, allow, or request them to drive under that condition. Drivers can register “on-duty not driving” after 14 hours of being on duty but not “driving.” They must be off duty for eight consecutive hours to drive again.

However, after 16 hours have passed since the end of the most recent period of eight or more consecutive off-duty hours, motor carriers must not allow, require, or request drivers to drive. Drivers shouldn’t do so as well.

Daily off-duty time

  1. Fleets must enforce logging a minimum of 10 hours of off-duty time in a day.
  2. Off-duty time besides the eight-consecutive-hours requirement can be spread throughout the day in blocks of at least 30 minutes each.
  3. The total number of off-duty hours taken in a day should include a minimum of two hours of off-duty time separate from the mandatory eight consecutive hours of off-duty periods.

What are the sleeper berth time rules in Canada?

Rules for sleeper berth time slightly differ between individual and team drivers.

For example, individual drivers traveling by a ferry crossing that lasts more than five hours. They don’t need to take the required rest period of eight consecutive hours or more under specific conditions:

  1. The period drivers spend resting in sleeper berths while waiting at the terminal to board the ferry, in ferry lodgings, and at a rest stop 25 kilometers or fewer away from the ferry disembarkation point sums up to at least eight hours.
  2. The resting hours are registered in the daily log as off-duty time spent in sleeper berths.
  3. Drivers keep the receipts for the crossing and rest accommodation expenses as supporting documents.
  4. These supporting documents match the daily log entries.

Individual drivers who operate CMVs with sleeper berths can also fulfill the off-duty and daily off-duty time conditions differently than drivers on land trips.

Split sleeper berth time rules in Canada

The federal HOS rules allow individual drivers in Canada to split their sleeper berth time into two periods. Granted that neither have run for less than two hours.

Other conditions for Canada’s split sleeper berth rule for individual drivers are:

  1. The periods on off-duty status are used for resting in sleeper berths.
  2. The two off-duty periods total a minimum of 10 hours.
  3. Total driving hours in the interval directly before and after each of the two off-duty periods doesn’t go beyond 13 hours.
  4. Time elapsed in the interval right before and after each of the two off-duty periods excludes driving time after the 16th hour of on-duty driving status.
  5. Total duty time in the periods directly before and after each of the off-duty periods (that total at least 10 hours, as mentioned above) excludes any driving time after the 14th hour.
  6. None of the daily off-duty time must be postponed to the next day.

On the other hand, a team of drivers operating CMVs fitted with sleeper berths can fulfill the required off-duty and daily off-duty requirements. This can be done by combining off-duty time in not more than two intervals, granted:

  1. Each of the off-duty periods is at least 4 hours long.
  2. Off-duty times are spent resting in the sleeper berths.
  3. The sum of the driving time in the intervals right before and after each of the off-duty periods excludes any driving time after the 16th-hour drivers are on duty.
  4. None of the daily off-duty time is deferred to the next day.
  5. The total of the on-duty time in the intervals directly before and after each of the off-duty periods spent in sleeper berths excludes any driving time after the 14th hour.

What are the two duty cycles in the HOS rules?

Canadian drivers can follow either of the two duty cycles indicated in the HOS rules.

  1. Cycle 1. Drivers who choose to follow Cycle 1 can’t drive after logging more than 70 hours on duty (e.g., “on-duty driving” and “on-duty not driving” statuses) in seven days.
  2. Cycle 2. Drivers following Cycle 2 can’t drive after logging more than 120 hours on duty (e.g., driving and “on-duty not driving” statuses) in 14 days. They also can’t drive after accumulating 70 hours on duty without taking a minimum of 24 consecutive hours off duty.

Motor carriers should take note of these rules and forbid allowing, requiring, or requesting their CMV drivers to drive for more than the allotted number of hours in either cycle.

In both cycles, drivers must have at least 24 hours of the off-duty period in the previous 14 days.

To reset and switch to the other duty cycle, drivers following cycle one should first have at least 36 consecutive hours of off-duty time, and 72 consecutive hours for those using cycle two.

What are the north of latitude 60°N HOS rules?

Drivers with trips to and from locations north of latitude 60°N encounter severe driving conditions and long distances. So the HOS regulation has a specified set of provisions for these drivers.

Below are the provisions for drivers with trips north of latitude 60°N:

  1. Driving restrictions. Driving time limit is raised by two hours, and drivers should stop driving after accumulating 15 hours of driving time.
  2. Shift requirements. Work shift limit is raised by four hours. Drivers must also stop driving after a work shift of 20 hours.
  3. On-Duty Limitations. On-duty time restrictions have an addition of four hours. Moreover, drivers should stop driving after being on duty for 18 hours.
  4. Drivers should be off duty for eight consecutive hours (primary resting period).

(Note: Canadian HOS regulations apply different guidelines for individual and team drivers going north of latitude 60°N. See below.)

For individual drivers, the following are the permitted sleeper berth conditions:

  1. Sleeper berth time may be split into two periods. This is if each of them runs for two hours or longer.
  2. Split sleeper berth periods must total to eight hours.
  3. Driving time accumulated before and after the sleeper berth times is 15 hours or less.
  4. No driving after 18 hours of on-duty periods accumulated before and after sleeper berth time.

On the other hand, team drivers can claim sleeper berth periods under these conditions:

  1. Drivers may split their sleeper berth period into two. Each period should be shorter than four hours.
  2. Two sleeper berth periods should total eight hours or more.
  3. Driving hours accumulated before and after the sleeper berth time should total to 15 hours maximum.
  4. Driving is prohibited after 18 hours of on-duty periods accumulated before and after the sleeper berth time.
  5. None of the off-duty time is deferred to the next day.

According to Canada HOS, for drivers should take eight consecutive hours of off-duty time to switch to regular work shifts (no sleeper berth).

As for the driving cycles, individual and team drivers operating north of latitude 60°N observe the same duty cycles and related conditions as those with trips south of latitude 60°N with the following differences:

  1. Drivers using Cycle 1 must stop driving after 80 hours of on-duty time in seven consecutive days.
  2. Although drivers who take Cycle 2 are also restricted to 120 hours on duty in 14 successive days, they shouldn’t drive after exceeding 80 hours on duty (instead of 70 for trips south of latitude 60°N) without taking a minimum of 24 hours off-duty.

Drivers need to stop driving upon reaching the cycle limit.

HOS Canada also prescribes the following cycle resets when drivers travel north of latitude 60°N:

  • Commercial drivers can end their current cycle and start a new one if they first take these off-duty times:
    • At least 36 continuous hours for Cycle 1
    • At least 72 consecutive hours for Cycle 2
  • After the reset period, on-duty hours accumulated are reset. Drivers begin a new cycle and resume driving.
  • Drivers don’t have to take cycle resets. They can cut their hours to avoid exceeding the cycle limits.

If drivers take Cycle 1 as they travel north of latitude 60°N, Canada Hours of Service rules have the following provisions:

  • Drivers can’t drive after completing 80 hours of on-duty time during any period of seven consecutive days.
  • Drivers should take at least 36 continuous hours of off-duty time to reset the cycle.

Here’s an example of applying the Hours of Service rules:

  • Commercial drivers are off duty on Friday and Saturday.
  • They go on duty for 10 hours on Sunday, 16 hours on Monday, and 18 hours each on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • Drivers stop driving and go off duty for 24 hours each on Friday and Saturday.
  • Drivers resume working for 10 hours of on-duty time on Sunday.

Alternatively, drivers using Cycle 2 in traveling north of latitude 60°N should note the following HOS rules:

  • Drivers can’t drive after 120 on-duty hours in any period of 14 continuous days.
  • Drivers shouldn’t go beyond 80 hours on duty without at least 24 consecutive off-duty hours.
  • To reset the cycle, drivers must have at least 72 continuous hours of off-duty time.

For example:

  • Drivers go off duty on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
  • They work on-duty for 12 hours on Sunday; 18 hours each on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; and 14 hours on Thursday.
  • Drivers stop driving and are off duty for 24 hours on Friday.
  • They resume on duty on Saturday for 10 hours, Sunday for 10 hours, Monday for 12 hours, and eight hours on Tuesday.
  • No driving on that same Tuesday after eight hours of driving. They also stop driving from Wednesday to Saturday that same week.
  • Drivers operate on duty again by Sunday.

The rules for Hours of Service in Canada also have the “mandatory 24 hours off duty” provision. It states that:

  • Drivers must not drive after 14 continuous days (regardless of the number of on-duty hours in the cycle).
  • After 14 consecutive on-duty days, drivers should have at least 24 continuous hours of off-duty time before driving again.

So, how can drivers switch cycles when driving north of latitude 60°N? Here’s how:

  • To switch from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2, drivers are required to take 36 consecutive hours of off-duty time.
  • To switch from Cycle 2 to Cycle 1, drivers need 72 consecutive off-duty hours.

Lastly, drivers crossing the Latitude 60⁰ North don’t need to record the differences in their daily and cycle duty times.

What are the Canadian off-duty deferrals?

The Canada HOS deferral of daily off-duty time can confuse commercial drivers and carriers. The simplest explanation is to think of it as a split shift.

This allows drivers to obtain two additional driving and on-duty hours in a 24-hour period (Day 1). Then, they can take the required two hours off immediately the next day (Day 2).

It’s also like working their morning shift, returning home for eight hours in the afternoon, and resuming work for the night shift on that same day. On the following day, they take two hours off during their shift, go home, and then take 10 hours off.

The eight hours off should be completed before the first day of deferral ends.

Commercial drivers should also note the following:

  • To divide their off-duty time over any two continuous days, drivers can postpone at most two hours of their daily off-duty time from the first deferral day to the second, and increase the total of their driving and on-duty times on Day 1 by a maximum of two hours.
  • Drivers must not drive beyond 13 hours or be on duty for over 14 hours from the end of their most recent eight continuous hours off.
  • Commercial drivers must complete the eight-hour requirement before the end of the first deferral day.
  • Drivers can take the 2 additional hours after the required eight hours off that same Day 1 (14 hours + 8 off + 2 = 24).
  • Day 2 must reflect 12 hours: 2 hours + 10 continuous hours; 8 hours off on Day 1, then 2 hours + 10 hours off on Day 2 = 20.
  • Deferral dates should be indicated accordingly in the driver’s log’s comment section, e.g., Deferred 2 hours July 4, 2020, to July 5, 2020.
  • Drivers can’t apply this method while they’re in split sleeper berth mode. To end it, they should take eight continuous hours off.
  • Over the two deferral days, driving time shouldn’t go beyond 26 hours, on-duty time must not exceed 28 hours, or off-duty time must not be shorter than 20 hours.
  • Drivers can use this approach every Day 2 as desired but they should understand these scheduling requirements.

What are the Canada North shift limitations?

Known locally as “north of 60,” the Canada North covers three territories: Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Drivers traveling north of the 60th line of latitude have shift limits, not daily limitations.

The Canada Hours of Service “north of 60” rules are: 

  • Driving limit. Drivers are limited to driving 15 hours in one shift. They can only drive 15 hours after eight continuous off-duty hours.
  • On-duty limit. Drivers can’t drive after accumulating 18 on-duty hours in a single shift. They can only resume driving after eight continuous hours off duty.
  • Shift or workday limit. Drivers can’t drive after 20 continuous hours have passed. They should take an off-duty break for a minimum of eight continuous hours before they can resume driving.

Commercial motor vehicles in Canada North get a 20-hour window to drive 15 hours at most before an entire off-duty break.

Drivers can apply new prescribed limits as soon as they cross the latitude 60°N north, just as they would for driving south of latitude 60°N. They don’t need to record the applied changes on their daily logs (as mentioned earlier).

Regardless of their driving and break times, the 20 hours that elapsed don’t stop once they begin. The Canada HOS rules require commercial drivers to complete eight consecutive off-duty hours after their 20-hour working shift.

Additional Canada North work shift restrictions are imposed relating to sleeper berths. Individual drivers must stop driving after 15 hours of driving time (before and after each permitted sleeper berth period).

They should also stop driving after 18 hours on duty (before and after each allowed sleeper berth time).

Team drivers will observe the same work shift restrictions for sleeper berths as individual drivers.

Canadian paper logbook regulations

It only makes sense that commercial fleets ensure their drivers keep accurate records of their duty status periods every day. Until they’re able to implement ELDs.

They need to document these periods in a logbook or on a radius record. That is, if they meet the conditions for the 160-kilometer radius record exemption. Doing this helps motor carriers ensure that their drivers don’t go beyond the required driving hour restrictions.

Canada paper logbook rules require each daily log to contain these details:

At the Beginning of the Day:

  1. Date
  2. Starting time of the driver’s day (if other than midnight, use the local time at the driver’s home terminal)
  3. Name and address of the driver’s home terminal (where they report for duty) and primary place of business (where drivers keep their daily logs) of every motor carrier that drivers will work for on that day

Note: Drivers can abbreviate the names of provinces or territories, states, and countries but not the cities.

  1. Name of the trucker (and co-drivers, if any)
  2. Duty cycle used by the driver
  3. CMV’s license plate number or unit numbers (of at least each power unit operated during the day)
  4. Odometer reading (at the start of the day) of every CMV that drivers will use
  5. On the remarks section: Any off-duty time deferral used and whether drivers drove Day 1 or 2 of the deferral. Also, if the drivers weren’t mandated to maintain a daily log before the present day (that is, they used the radius exemption), they should record the number of hours of off-duty and on-duty times for every day during the preceding 14 days.

During the day:

  1. Hours for every duty status (to at least the nearest 15-minute increment)
    1. Driving time
    2. On-duty time, aside from the driving period
    3. Off-duty period, excluding time spent in sleeper berths
    4. Off-duty time used resting in sleeper berths
  2. Driver’s location for every change in duty status:
    1. Name of the municipality, location on a highway or in a legal subdivision, and the province or state
  3. Start and end odometer readings if the driver used the CMV for personal use
  4. Graph grid with a continuous line
  5. On the remarks section: any extension to driving, on-duty, or elapsed time due to emergencies or adverse driving conditions — and the reasons for doing so

At the end of the day:

  1. Total number of hours for every duty status
  2. Odometer reading at the end of the day
  3. Total distance driven on that day, excluding any distance driven for personal use
  4. Driver’s actual (not stamped) signature to verify the correctness of the daily log entries.

Canada HOS permits

According to Section 62(1), other than oil well service vehicles, motor carriers can apply for permits for longer on-duty driving times than the required HOS for the following reasons:

  1. Allowing commercial drivers with regular itineraries to reach their destinations or home terminals
  2. Delivering perishable goods
  3. Accommodating an important temporary surge in motor carriers’ transportation of goods or passengers

Motor carriers should submit pertinent documents and information to the provincial director. They’ll respond within 30 days and issue the permit once the request for approval is granted.

FAQs on Canada HOS rules

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Canada HOS regulation:

1. Which government agency implements the Canada HOS rules?
The Motor Carrier Division, under the Ministry of Transport (“Transport Canada”), governs the execution of the Canada HOS regulations.

This is in line with the division’s responsibility to facilitate minimizing collisions, injuries, and fatalities involving large CMVs and buses in Canada.

The Motor Carrier Division works closely with the provincial and territorial government offices. Together, they enforce rules and regulations overseeing safe operation by commercial motor vehicles, drivers, and operators.

2. What instruments should motor carriers and drivers use to record HOS?
Paper logs are the traditional way of recording drivers’ HOS. Then came the introduction of electronic recording devices (ERDs). And smartphone apps for computerized logging.

However, with the Canada ELD mandate to be enforced beginning on January 1, 2023, ELD solutions will be the mandated devices for recording HOS.

There’s no grandfathering period for ERDs, and paper logs will remain as backup instruments should ELDs malfunction.

3. What supporting documents should drivers retain to verify HOS records?
Examples of supporting documents include freight bills, driver call-in records, fuel receipts and billing statements, dispatch documents, toll receipts, weight or scale tickets, agricultural inspection reports, gate record receipts, trip permits, driver fax reports, traffic citations, delivery receipts, and many more.

4. If the CMV operated has no built-in sleeper berths, can they create a “makeshift” sleeper berth and claim a split sleeper berth period?
No. The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations amended in July 2020 specify the standards (in Schedule 1) for appropriate sleeping accommodation. Sleeper berths must meet these criteria to be able to record sleeper berth times.

5. At what time does a duty cycle start?
A duty cycle begins at the time declared by the motor carrier as the start time of the day. If the motor carrier has established a start time that differs from the calendar day, then the day should begin at the declared time and remains so for the remainder of the cycle.

Improved driver safety with Canadian Hours of Service rules

Understanding the Hours of Service rules is an absolute must for commercial drivers operating in Canada. These HOS regulations define how much work (and rest) drivers are allowed. So they don’t experience driver fatigue that may lead to road accidents.

To improve driver safety and ensure compliance with the Canadian HOS rules, install ELDs in your trucks. Motive is trusted by over 90,000 companies and 1,000,000 drivers.

Request a free demo today to learn more about Motive’s compliance solution.