More ELD questions emerge ahead of mandate

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TORONTO, Ont. – Electronic Logging Device (ELD) suppliers continue to await answers for some key questions as they prepare for a pending Canadian mandate that takes hold June 12.

In a wide-ranging webinar, Omnitracs vice-president – regulatory affairs Michael Ahart referred to examples including exactly where Hours of Service records will need to be emailed, and questions about what to do when an ELD malfunctions.

Omnitracs ELD
Federally regulated carriers will have to equip trucks with ELDs by June 12. (Photo: Omnitracs)

“We are at this point waiting for clarification from Transport Canada on where the emails will be sent,” he said, referring to options that might include a personal email address or centralized email system. “There’s no known answer to that question.”

But Canadian enforcement teams won’t use the EROD system unique to the U.S., Ahart stressed, noting that ELDs in Canada must be capable of emailing data and can also transfer information using an optional Bluetooth or USB.

What is known is that the transfers will include a non-editable PDF and a data output file that includes the record of duty status for the current 24-hour period as well as the previous 14 days.

Malfunctioning ELDs

Then there are the questions about malfunctioning ELDs.

“When a malfunction is indicated by the ELD, Transport Canada requires the driver to notify the carrier when the vehicle is next parked. The driver shall fill out a paper record of duty status including the new requirements outlining the date and the time the malfunction was discovered and reported,” Ahart said.

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants drivers to continue using a device as long as a malfunction doesn’t actually impair the recording of the record of duty status.

Transport Canada and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators has yet to provide such guidance around units that aren’t running exactly as designed.

But drivers with a malfunctioning ELD in Canada will need to use a paper record or duty status until the unit is repaired or the malfunction has cleared. Carriers then have a maximum of 14 days to repair or replace the unit, or the driver returns to the home terminal after a longer trip.

“There is no extension provision like there is in the United States,” Ahart said.

Omnitracs ELD
(Photo: Omnitracs)

Older trucks without ELDs

Regulators south of the border also offer some greater clarity around which older vehicles don’t require the devices.

In the U.S., an ELD is not required if a commercial motor vehicle or engine is manufactured before the year 2000.

“We don’t have that same clarification in Canada,” Ahart said, noting that there’s no specific reference to the years that engines are manufactured. Only the commercial motor vehicles themselves are referenced.

Waiting for certification

One of the biggest differences between the Canadian and U.S. rules is Canada’s requirement for a recognized third party to certify that an ELD meets related technical standards. FPInnovations is the only group cleared to certify the equipment so far, although Transport Canada is looking at others.

“We expect that testing for certification will take about four to six weeks per device,” Ahart said.

Suppliers can install ELD software before it’s certified, but will need to embed a related certification number before the mandate takes hold.

“There are currently no certified devices that meet the Canadian certification requirements, regardless of what you may be hearing,” he added.

Canada and U.S. differ

They aren’t the only differences between ELDs used in Canada or the U.S.

On this side of the border, for example, the devices will need to trigger warnings 30 minutes before drivers reach their maximum allowed driving time, reflecting factors such as hours of service limits by jurisdiction, day, work shift, and cycle, as well as off-duty deferrals and zone changes.

Drivers must also confirm whether a yard move will continue after an engine power cycle is completed, and the yard move will automatically switch to a driving status at 32 km/h.

“If a driver fails to indicate a yard move or personal conveyance and begins driving, that cannot be fixed,” he said. “If someone eats up your drive time, it’s going to eat up your log.”

Meanwhile, personal conveyance moves will be limited to a range of 75 km, and automatically switch to driving time after that. But no locations will be recorded, and the regulations around personal conveyance that apply to distance, use, and bobtailing remain the same.

Also be aware of restrictions for using personal conveyance in the U.S. 14 days before entering Canada, he warned.

Provincial ELDs coming?

The pending rules only apply to federally regulated carriers for now. But provinces may not be far behind with related rules of their own

“Ontario has recently released a survey to the carriers with questions about using the ELD in intra-provincial carriage,” Ahart said.

Meanwhile, there is plenty for drivers and other fleet teams to learn once they have ELDs in hand.

Ahart stressed the need to train drivers on several factors, particularly the fact that all vehicle moves above 8 km/h will be recorded.

If a driver has to move a vehicle while in sleeper berth status, there is no way to move the equipment without breaking sleeper berth requirements. Any reasons for the move will need to be annotated.

And if a driver begins driving without indicating a related yard move or personal conveyance, that can’t be fixed. Neither can driving time be edited if a driver fails to log off and someone else climbs behind the wheel and simply starts to drive. Such situations will require annotations of their own.

“I just can’t overemphasize the need to understand the impact that unidentified driving segments will have on the administrative task,” he said, noting that auditors will dig into all unidentified driving segments.

No matter what, nobody will be able to switch between ELD and AOBRD modes to avoid recording requirements, he said. “You can’t trick the ELD.”

Anyone who thinks it can be unplugged while they make a move will only be exposed for falsifying logs. Jumps in the odometer will all be noticed, as will position changes.

“Trying to avoid using it is just a futile experience,” he said.

With plenty to learn, Ahart emphasized that training in the coming months will be key.

“The impact of training cannot be over-stated,” he said, referring to drivers, administrators, mechanics, support personnel, and even executives.

In every cab, ongoing support is to come in the form of an ELD user manual, an instruction card on what to do in the event of a malfunction, and a card addressing the process for transferring the data and pdf.

“The first time a driver has to deal with understanding what the requirements are at roadside,” Ahart said, “should not be at a roadside inspection.”

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • When is transport Canada Ever gonna get it through their heads that we need to PC with a trailer not just Bob tailing. That rule needs to be changed ASAP we cannot be sitting at a customers parking lot for eight hours to get our hours back thank you

    • Transport Canada needs to make all shippers and receivers provide parking. Those that do not should have pay a $50,00 fee per pickup or delivery and pay detention rates of at least $45.00 per hour for flatbed or dry box and $50,00 per hour for reefers and other trailers.

  • I have sought clarification from Alberta Carrier Services regarding the following section, attached is their reply (I have not heard any update on this YTD):

    If the law is created as proposed in Gazette II – section 77(1) it currently reads:

    Electronic Logging Device

    77 (1) A motor carrier shall ensure that each commercial vehicle that it operates is equipped with an ELD that meets the requirements of the Technical Standard, and shall ensure that it is mounted in a fixed position during the operation of the commercial vehicle and is visible to the driver when the driver is in the normal driving position, with the exception of commercial vehicles that are
    (a) operated by a motor carrier under a permit;
    (b) operated by a motor carrier to which an exemption has been issued under the Act;
    (c) the subject of a rental agreement of no longer than 30 days that is not an extended or renewed rental of the same vehicle; or
    (d) manufactured before model year 2000.

    My question is in regards to sections (a)&(b):

    What is the definition of a permit?
    Which exemptions issued under the Act are they referring to? Will there be exemptions issued to carriers to not require ELD’s, or would this include other exemptions already stated within the Federal Hours of Service regulations (Oilfield Service Vehicle Cycle Exemption – for example)?

    To which I received the following reply:

    “As you know, at this time section 77(1) is not yet in force. The definition of a permit would be any permit issued under the Act. It would follow other sections and exemptions identifying “permits”. Such as the exemption to maintaining a daily log.

    With regard to the second portion of your question, this information has not been fully released to us as of yet. I will provide you with a link to the Government of Canada’s website for Motor Carriers. There is contact information located at the bottom of the web page. As the federal government is handling the re-write of the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulation, they would be your best resource with your questions until the full regulation is released and in force.”

    Another question that I had (yet unanswered) is:

    How are companies to comply with the ELD mandate for vehicles which are registered below the Federal Threshold of 4,500kg but periodically are attached to a trailer (registered with weight so that it is legal) which now makes the vehicle a commercial vehicle due to it’s combined GVW?

    Will there be a system in place which would be able to detect the trailer being attached therefore requiring the ELD, and smart enough to know that there are no limitations on the light duty vehicle when not attached? These laws at their current weight thresholds affect more vehicles than tractor trailer units – it affects all vehicles with a registered or combined GVW >4,500kg.

    If a Federal Carrier registers any vehicle over 4,500kg it is a commercial vehicle and is subject to all the legal requirements of what the motoring public could easily identify as “commercial”.

    If anyone has insight to these questions – please reply.

  • What a terrible idea and a terrible system.

    Current regs ALREADY force us to drive tired and too fast for weather conditions in order to comply with Hours of Service demands.
    With no log-book wiggle room left at all, the situation will go from ‘disasterous’ to ‘catastrophic’.
    Once again, EVERYONE on the road is put in significant danger by a government that has cash grabs like this masquerading around as as ‘saftey’ regulations.

    Does anyone who supports such a scam really think it’s going to create anything other than a road full of over-tired , stressed out drivers going 88km/h in a 90 zone, when weather dictates that they should be doing 40?

    Currently in the above scenario, they would most likely be driving safely…
    With an ELD tattling on someone for being over hours, the cost of safety becomes enough motivation to ‘push it’… maybe too far.

  • I’ve been on ELD’s for 14 years! Never a problem. Saves time and I make more $$$. Customers know I’m on there dime! Delays will have a ripple effects. Remember Canadian laws are much easier to follow , 13 hours makes for a long day! No more dispatchers telling you to drive all night! You are the captain

  • Why is it I have Carrier’s that had regularly experienced Sensor failures and ELD malfunctions, and now they experience very few such events?

    I’ll tell you why, most of the time it’s a result of the lack of maintaining the ELD account (SW Updates), issues with Cellular connection, and sadly the lack of monitoring the Drivers for potential tampering.

    Honestly, I deal with multiple Carriers on a 24/7 basis and considering the amount of “real” ELD malfunctions I see, I wouldn’t consider them to be enough justification to post pone the ELD Mandate in Canada.