Transport Canada recently made two long-awaited announcements. On Feb. 15, it revealed to The Canadian Press that electronic logging devices (ELDs) and electronic stability control systems (ESCs) would become mandatory on heavy-duty vehicles in Canada. The PMTC has long been in favour of both of these mandates and we welcome this news from Transport Canada.
While no timeline was announced for ESC, Transport Canada did announce that a new manufacturing standard will be put in place that requires these systems to be installed on all new heavy-duty vehicles manufactured for the Canadian marketplace. In my view, the sooner the better for this standard.
These systems mitigate the chances of a rollover or collision, and while they are not foolproof and cannot compensate for all errors in judgement, they have been proven to greatly reduce the risk of incidents. And in cases where they may not prevent crashes, they still can reduce the impact.
Nothing new is required from manufacturers to meet this standard, as many truck purchasers have been ordering trucks with ESC for some time now. The benefits from these systems have been proven over time to far outweigh the cost of implementation. Let’s hope this standard is introduced as early as 2017.
ELDs have garnered a lot of attention over the years, and it has been a much more controversial topic than ESC. To me, this mandate is also a no-brainer. The paper logging system is outdated and antiquated in the 21st century.
Everything in our lives – both professional and personal – has been inundated with technological advances over the years, which have increased productivity and oversight. While you can argue that not all advances are for the better, there is no valid argument against this one.
Pulling out a paper and pen to complete a legal log of your hours is just plain ludicrous in today’s environment. Can you imagine going to the office and arguing with your employer that computers should be removed from the offices and that everyone should go back to simply communicating with pen, paper and phones?
You would be laughed out of the office, so why has this been accepted for so many years in the trucking industry? The fact that log books are referred to as comic books by drivers tells you all you need to know.
Will electronic logs eliminate all manners and forms of “bending” the rules? Of course not. No matter what regulations are put in place, someone will always try to circumvent the rules and find some sort of perceived advantage. But no one can argue that it will greatly reduce the amount of rule-bending that takes place and will make it much more difficult to get away with. While I fully believe the vast majority of companies and operators in our industry are following the rules – even in today’s paper environment – the introduction of ELDs will increase oversight and encourage even greater compliance.
We all know that rules and regulations are made for the few that do not follow them, not the majority that do. The increased oversight will help to level the playing field and will help to remove unscrupulous operators from our industry, those whose business plans include “fracturing” the laws.
These types of operators contribute to keeping rates low on the backs of their employees to the detriment of the industry by undercutting rates. Companies who operate legally are put at a disadvantage in these cases and that is something that we as an industry must do everything we can to combat.
The benefits of these devices have been proven over time to fleet operators and drivers who have instituted these on their own. In my previous job, I introduced and rolled out electronic logs for the fleet I managed. At the beginning of the process, our drivers were equally split on their preference towards e-logs versus paper, but within six months of introduction, this was easily converted to a 90/10 split in favour of electronic logs.
It even got to the point where if a unit went down in a driver’s truck, I had him or her in my office asking when the system was going to get repaired, as they were tired of returning to paper logs after only a day or two.
The majority of drivers soon get used to the systems and embrace e-logs. From a management standpoint, the amount of time that was saved in verifying and checking log compliance was reduced by more than 50% and a lot of verification that was not being done prior, was now being done.
Verification can be done in real-time and trip planning for fleet managers and drivers becomes much easier and more transparent.
There is simply no good argument against the introduction of these systems. With the US announcing its mandate, which is to come into force in late 2017, it made sense that Canada should follow suit. Transport Canada has yet to announce an implementation date for this mandate, but has indicated it is likely to closely follow the timelines in the US. While we view this announcement as a positive step, much work is yet to be done.
In order for the standard to have any teeth, Transport Canada must work with the provinces towards provincial and territorial mandates as well, as Transport Canada has jurisdiction over fleets that cross provincial and territorial boundaries only. Transport Canada also has to rely on the provinces to enforce federal rules at roadside.
Mike Millian is president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the only national association that represents the views and interests of the private fleet industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.