TORONTO, Ont. — Canadian carriers should start planning now for the implementation of an electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, which is coming in the US by December 2017 and in Canada at some point thereafter.
That was the message from Tom Cuthbertson, vice-president of regulatory compliance with Omnitracs and chairman of the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) ELD Task Force. This week, he addressed the Ontario Trucking Association’s Council Summit on the impending legislation. Afterwards, he sat down with Truck News to discuss the implications for the Canadian trucking industry.
“If you’re a Canadian carrier going to the states, you need to think about this,” he warned.
The first decision that must be made if you’re still using paper logs and travel into the US is whether to adopt an existing automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) now or wait until there’s a greater selection of ELDs available that meet the technical standards within the regulation. If you’re currently running electronic logs, those systems will be grandfathered for two years after implementation of the new standard, meaning they’ll be accepted until December 2019.
Cuthbertson’s advice is to make the switch today, rather than wait.
“My suggestion operationally is, if you have nothing electronically, I would suggest you go forward, take some time to find a good vendor, put the AOBRDs in now and get the driver acclimated,” he said. “If you wait till the 11th hour to go from paper to electronic, people are not going to comprehend the training time for those drivers, and it’s not just drivers, it’s the back office.”
In some cases, Cuthbertson said, transitioning from a current AOBRD to fully compliant ELDs will require nothing more than a software update.
ELD suppliers are charged with self-certifying their products once their devices meet all the technical requirements laid out in the regulation. Already, several devices have popped up on the FMCSA list of self-certified devices. However, the big name providers are noticeably absent. Cuthbertson said it takes time to become compliant – as much as 12-14 months – but when the big players start appearing on the web site, “You’ll know we’ve been vetted,” he said.
It’s up to carriers to do their due diligence when selecting a vendor. If they find the device they’ve chosen from the FMCSA’s list is not compliant, it will be up to them to report it. FMCSA will issue a warning letter to the vendor and require it to prove its compliance or be removed from the list.
“Anyone can claim to be certified,” Cuthbertson warned.
There are some aspects of the impending regulation that could cause operational challenges for carriers. For example, short-term or seasonal rentals will have to be ELD-equipped, but there’s no requirement on leasing companies to provide the equipment. A Canadian carrier that suffers a breakdown in the US and takes a short-term rental to get the driver home may be scrambling for a solution. Cuthbertson said this is where plug-and-play ELDs may be a good option.
If the ELD itself breaks, there’s an eight-day grace period during which drivers will be able to return to paper logs.
The ELD mandate will require better planning by drivers and dispatchers, and the cooperation of shippers, Cutherbertson noted. There’s no exemptions in the regulation for drivers who’ve been held up at a shipper’s facility for three hours waiting to unload.
“If you’re sitting there for three hours, make that phone call (to dispatch) at one hour,” he suggested. “There’s no such thing as a safe haven in the regulation.”
Yard moves and unassigned driving time are also areas of concern. A mechanic with a CDL, for example, will need a login ID for when driving a vehicle to a dealership for warranty work or conducting road tests with prospective new hires.
“Think about how you move vehicles around,” Cuthbertson advised.
Drivers, when logging in, can decline unassigned driving time but the carrier will have to account for it in its records.
“Any declined time must be reconciled by the carrier,” Cuthbertson explained.
ELD suppliers have been given two options for how to transmit data to enforcement officers, and neither of them involved requiring the officer to enter the vehicle. They can choose to transmit data via telematics (wireless web services and e-mail) or locally (peer-to-peer) via a USB2.0 flash drive or Bluetooth. Enforcement agencies will have to be capable of accepting the data both ways. Drivers must also be able to display their logs on-screen without requiring enforcement officers to enter the truck.
Asked by Truck News what his most important message is to Canadian fleets, Cuthbertson emphasized the need for preparation. When properly deployed, he said ELDs will benefit fleets and drivers.
“Drivers are saying, ‘I’m getting drive time back. I don’t have to worry about thinking at the end of the day where will I put my 15-minute tick mark? I have all my logs right here in front of me – I don’t have to take that load. I know how much drive time I have left.’ Some will say, ‘I’m more competitive with dispatch because they won’t assign me a load if I don’t have enough time to pick it up and go take my break.’ All that is evident right in front of them. People are planning their days better,” he said.