Debunking the Myth Around ELD and Crossing Borders

There have been many different stories in the trucking business throughout the past six months when it comes to questions of ELD compliance among Canadian and Mexican drivers and trucking companies operating in the United States.

The rumor was that non-U.S. drivers and/or trucking companies could avoid complying with the much-talked-about Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate, which took effect Dec. 18, 2017, as long as their trucks returned to the home bases outside the U.S. every night. As with most rumors there’s a bit of truth to that — but only a part.

The new regulation does grant a waiver to certain trucks that return to their base each night if you comply with either of the short-haul exemptions. Thus, a Mexican or Canadian driver that begins the day at home base, crosses into the U.S., and then returns home by the day’s end might qualify for an ELD waiver if other waiver conditions are also met.

But, realistically, the number of Canadian and Mexican trucks operating in the United States who can meet those very narrow limitations every single day they’re operated is quite small. So, for all practical purposes, trucks and drivers from the United States’ neighboring nations are every bit as responsible for running ELD-compliant on U.S. roads as their American counterparts.

However, there’s really not much new there. Canadian and Mexican commercial trucks and drivers operating in the U.S. have been required to operate by the same rules as their U.S. counterparts for decades. That includes adhering to the Hours of Service rules and now, the ELD Mandate. So, while some international trucking organizations were scrambling to meet the ELD compliance deadline, many trucks from those nations that regularly or even occasionally roll in the U.S. they were already AOBRD-compliant.

Indeed, they’re just getting ahead of the game for operating back home. Transport Canada, Canada’s transportation regulator, recently targeted 2020 for implementing that nation’s own ELD Mandate. The transition will be less of a change than with the U.S. ELD Mandate already in place. Additionally, due to the Canadian economy being heavily dependent upon trade with the United States — and because 90 percent of the Canadian population lives within 200 miles of the U.S. border — most trucking operations there are fully compliant with U.S. trucking requirements. Also, Transport Canada’s regulation largely mirrors those of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In Mexico, highway safety officials have begun planning for the eventual implementation of an ELD regime even as they work to complete that nation’s first-ever definitive set of Hours of Service rules. But the transition there promises to be a bigger step.

Unlike Canada, the vast majority of Mexicans live more than 100 miles from the U.S. border. Thus, while trucks that operate mainly in northern Mexico typically are U.S.-road compliant, trucks that operate exclusively in central and southern Mexico tend not to be operated as close to U.S. standards. So the nation’s full transition to a U.S.-like operations and safety maintenance regulatory regime likely will take a little longer.

Looking into the future, we’re expecting to see new regulations be developed throughout North America. Until then, we’ll continue to endorse that the three nation’s trucking regulations are harmonized.