Third-party certification for ELDs a no-brainer, but comes with side-effects

So, electronic logging devices (ELDs) are finally coming to Canada in 2021. A little bit behind our neighbors to the south, but perhaps a blessing in disguise.

It will be two years this December since the U.S. ELD mandate was implemented, which is plenty of time to learn what has worked and what has not with our American friends.

One area in particular that has not been ideal is how ELDs are certified and approved in the U.S. This self-certification malarkey is just that…a lazy way to offer a device that is intended to enable carriers to comply with a federally-regulated law.

Canada has smartly gone a different direction on this by adding to the mandate third-party certification, which means any ELD that could potentially hit the market will have to be tested and approved by someone other than the manufacturer of the device to ensure it is in full compliance.

Imagine, allowing the creator of a product to be responsible for telling customers that it is in compliance and everyone is expected to take their word for it. It’s not like they want to make money off the device or anything.

Canada’s due diligence has, however, created a bit of a hiccup in how its ELD mandate will mesh with the U.S.’s. Because devices in Canada will require third-party certification, any U.S. carrier operating in Canada will need to make sure the device they are using meets those requirements when on our soil.

So, what will this mean?

Well, it could mean Canadian commercial vehicle enforcement officers might be pretty busy during the initial months after Canada’s mandate comes into effect.

It also means there will be several U.S. carriers that operate cross-border having to make sure the device they spent several thousands of dollars on is compliant with Canadian law. And that might not go over too well.

Another side-effect of Canada’s third-party certification rule – and not necessarily a bad one – is that there will be much fewer ELD manufacturers in Canada, and possibly in the U.S. once the Canadian law in implemented.

Some in the industry believe there will be around a dozen ELD providers in Canada, while in the U.S. with self-certification there are countless options, not all good ones.

This could turn out to be a negative, as there will be less competition and prices could be higher in Canada – just like every other product we buy here compared to the U.S. But it could also mean the ELD you are purchasing is a higher quality product because it is provided by a larger, more reputable company.

It’s hard to argue against third-party certification, as it really is a no-brainer. But despite the best of intentions, it does create a bit of a conundrum with commercial transportation being such a multinational industry.

But as with any new legislation, I’m sure things will get ironed out in the end…it might just take a bit longer than anyone wants.

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • From what I’ve seen in the USA (talking to DOT officers) self certification only harms the driver.
    A trucker rolls in for inspection. DOT asks for logs etc… A driver with a bad self certified elog is now shut down for up to 34 hours, fined and now needs to buy a reputable elog.
    Larger carriers don’t want this, plus the elog must work with their dispatch software so a cheap option isn’t an option.
    I say 3rd party is great.