Bring on ELDs, but delay the enforcement

John G Smith

Canada is marching ever closer to mandated electronic logging devices (ELDs), and that’s a good thing. The digital tools bring the tracking of Hours of Service into a modern age, eliminate any questions about the real time that trucking requires, and deliver meaningful business insights.

Fleets not already using ELDs are falling behind. Even worse, some of them continue to cling to paper logbooks because the documents are easy to manipulate, making it far too easy to undercut rates and force drivers to deliver loads within unreasonable timelines.

Canada’s trucking industry needs ELDs.

Its regulators also need to defer the enforcement of a June 12 mandate for the devices.

dark highway
(Photo: istock)

Blame Transport Canada for that.

Every federally regulated carrier is being told to use an ELD certified by a recognized testing body, and rightly so. The U.S. process of allowing suppliers to self-certify equipment has led to devices that can be manipulated by users as easily – or more easily – than a traditional paper logbook.

But there are more than 600 devices currently available to truck fleets operating south of the border. Not one of them meets Canada’s superior requirements.

This can be said with confidence because Canada has yet to certify a single electronic logging device. Visit Transport Canada’s list of approved devices and you’ll find little more than a promissory note that: “a list of electronic logging devices will be added into a table below once certified by an accredited certification body.”

The list remains empty – largely because of the dithering that led to a late decision on naming a certification body. FPInnovations was only tasked with the role as recently as October 2020.

I am personally confident that major ELD suppliers will be ready to meet the June 12 mandate. Their customers will be served. With equipment in the cab, technical updates can be made over the air. In the meantime, users will begin to see the benefits of the devices before their counterparts who are waiting for a regulatory hammer alone.

Leading suppliers should also be applauded for their ongoing commitment to educating customers, and shining lights on technical issues as they did emerge. Through their work, the ELDs that serve the Canadian market will be better than those meeting U.S. requirements.

With just over three months until deadline day, however, it’s unreasonable to force every federally regulated owner-operator or fleet to commit to a device until they can say with absolute certainty that a particular ELD will meet the rules.

Even enforcement teams appear unprepared for the looming mandate. Despite commitments made through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, provinces have yet to roll out rules and timelines for truckers who stay within provincial borders. Quebec’s roadside enforcement arm, the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ), has even announced it will not be ready to enforce federal rules when the deadline comes on June 12.

It’s time for every other province to do the same, leading to a deferral just like the one the U.S. needed when it was rolling out its ELD mandate.

I have held out hope for the June 12 deadline to this point. I am frustrated that some truckers continue to hold onto existing ELDs knowing full well that they can be manipulated. There are others who will fail to meet a regulatory deadline no matter when the date comes, whether it would deliver a real benefit or not. They are shortchanging Canada’s trucking industry and those behind the wheel.

But like it or not, it’s time for a delay.

John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Your gonna see alot of trucks parked and driver’s quitting this industry guaranteed when the ELD is mandatory. It’s a hard way of making a living at already, with tighter rules and not turning the wheels means no income. If they wanna enforce eld then raise our rates to compensate for all our lost time away from family and lost income cause that’s what it all comes down too. Just going by what i hear from alot of o/o and drives out on the road.

    • I totally agree with you. Who will want to work driving a truck for such little pay when this eld gets mandated. We rely on the trucking companies to deliver personal goods and necessities. Everyone will quit. But
      Eventually driver’s will have to get paid more because no one will want to work for little pay, and guess what the consumer in the end will pay. Thanks ELD

  • That’s just what we need 1 more device that probably cost a LOT and everything that goes with it will to. Just leave us alone and let us do our job, without you. I am so tiered of paying for things,just because you ( Government ) want to control are every move. We have been an owner operator for 36 years, you and all the regulations are breaking us. Let’s see what fuel ends up to be this year. We are not bad people we just want the American dream because we are American and have lived in Calif. all our lives, but we are about to be pushed out, can’t afford it.

  • Great article John, very well said. You speak the truth about how things operate now. Anyone who has ever been a trucker knows how to manipulate a paper log, which results in drivers that lack sleep & alertness. Some company timelines are so tight that speeding is required in order to meet the timelines… and the carnage and deaths on the roads continues. My husband has used an ELD in Canada/US for the past few years, and is working for a company that has not yet implemented them for all drivers. He’s been told more than once that “the other drivers can make their (extremely tight deliveries) on time”. You and I both know why. Customers, suppliers, trucking companies and their dispatchers are in for an awakening.

  • IS THIS NOT TYPICAL OF EVERY GOVERNMENT MANDATE AND UNDERTAKING THAT THEY CANT GET OUT OF THEIR OWN WAY . MANDATE AND MAKE LAWS THEN DON’T SUPPLY THE INDUSTRY WITH GUIDANCE WE NEED TO COMPLY WITH SAID LAWS . GO AHEAD AND PURCHASE A SYSTEM THAT MAY OR MAY NOT COMPLY WITH REGULATIONS AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE COST BECAUSE YOU CAN CHANGE IT DOWN THE ROAD IF WE SAY YOU WILL CHANGE IT DOWN THE ROAD . TYPICAL KING SIZE PILE OF GOVERNMENT BULLSHIT…AS USUAL. YOU FOLKS THAT ARE SPOKES PEOPLE FOR THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY ARE NOT ALWAYS HELPFUL OR INFORMED TO WHAT GOES ON AT THE GROUND LEVEL . ANYONE THAT HAS FOOLED THEMSELVES INTO THINKING E LOGS ARE GOING TO BE ANY SEMBLANCE OF A CURE FOR THE SAFETY ISSUES IN OUR INDUSTRY ARE LIVING IN UNICORN LAND .

  • Everyone that says they’re not gonna use these systems or say it makes it harder or that the rules are changing, should be getting out of the industry.

    NEWSFLASH – THE RULES HAVE NOT CHANGED

    The only thing that has changed is the tool being used to record the hours – from pen & paper to an electronic device. Just because you currently do something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s right (or legal).

    An example would be you’ve got 15 min of drive time left but you’re only half-hour from home. Legally, in 15 mins you’re off the road, but historically everything’s been done in a sort of grey area and continuing the drive cause “you’re almost home” has become a flagrant abuse and middle finger to the rules.

  • Europe has been on elog since 1973. We should be paid by the hour, including all hours spent in the truck away from home .
    Time to get up to date!!!
    Or go on strike, see what happens then.

  • Just try to find a place to sleep at night on the way from Toronto to Montreal… I don’t like to stay for 8 hours on ramp, without access to toilet.. The only one that will be driving will be packets.

  • Driver rates have to be adjusted to this new technology. On average the truck will produce 40% less so in saying that I expect the federal government to regulate wages that will meet this challenge.

  • Driver rates have to be adjusted to this new technology. On average the truck will produce 40% less so in saying that I expect the federal government to regulate wages that will meet this challenge. Infrastructure projects have got to go hand in hand with this new safety agenda and so far its a huge failure so if safety is your focus then please go full pull on it not just what will suit your voting public who are kept blinded about all the facts.