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.
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.
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