Canada’s third-party certification to tackle ELD manipulation

The most significant difference between Canada’s ELD mandate and its U.S. counterpart is the certification process.

The U.S. requires suppliers to self-certify their devices, in an approach that has resulted in hundreds of available products. Canada will require a third-party to ensure ELDs meet related technical standards – covering things like the way data is shared — before the devices can be used here.

Fewer devices are expected to be approved for sale in Canada as a result.

Today’s Trucking asked trucking industry representatives, government officials, and the nation’s first third-party certification body some key questions.

Canada’s third-party certification process is looking to ensure ELDs can’t be manipulated. But it will also mean fewer devices on the market. (Photo: Isaac Instruments)

Geoffrey Wood
Senior vice-president of policy
Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA)

TT: Why is self-certification for ELDs not the way to go for Canada, and what are your thoughts on the establishment of a third-party certifying body?

Wood: Self-certification has shown there are opportunities for the improper use of ELDs and opportunities for purpose designed non-compliance in the industry and supply chain.

Transport Canada and the minister (Transport Minister Marc Garneau) have indicated they are committed to moving forward with the regulation in June 2021 and are on time. ELD vendors have all had the opportunity to be engaged in (the third-party certification) process at a very detailed level since its inception several years ago.

Mike Millian
Private Motor Truck Council of Canada

TT: Why did Canada choose to adopt a third-party certification system instead of self-certification?

Millian: Canada almost did self-certification, which they posted in Gazette 1 and 2, and they eventually learned that it was fraught with disaster and they had to go with the third-party certification process. Which is also what has slowed us down as well, but in this case it’s a good slow down. There are over 600 devices self-certified (in the U.S.), which is hogwash.

Self-certification is no certification unless somebody is actually going to check up on these devices, which was not happening.

 TT: Who is checking to ensure the self-certified devices are on the up and up in the U.S., and what issues would this cause in Canada if we had adopted the same system?

Millian: There are testing procedures that manufacturers have to follow, and you do have to download the testing procedures, which are on the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration) website. And then they have to submit the document that certifies that they have run all these testing procedures.

But all they’re doing is submitting paperwork. Nobody actually checks. For the most part, governments are stretched so thin, the checking is happening by an officer at the roadside if he sees something that doesn’t look right, or when complaints are phoned in. By then, somebody has already purchased a device and installed it in their truck.

TT: What were some other factors that contributed to Canada choosing a third-party certification system?

Millian: The insurance companies got involved. The insurance company actually showed a couple of devices to a stakeholder working group that showed there were systems out there that were actually being designed to cheat the Hours of Service (HoS) regulations. So, they had the exact opposite affect they were supposed to have. Manufacturers were submitting devices that were showing an officer on the side of the road logs that were legal, while hiding illegal logs behind the system.

TT: With third-party certification, Canada is expected to see significantly fewer ELD options than the U.S. Do you foresee any issues with U.S. carriers operating in Canada that are using a certified U.S. device but will likely not be legal in Canada?

Millian: Most of us within the industry (in Canada) are kind of expecting somewhere between 15 to 30 devices to get certified in Canada. So, you have 600 devices south of the border, that means we’re eliminated over 570 devices.

That is a good thing. I’d be stunned if half the devices that are listed as certified south of the border would actually pass any kind of certification test whatsoever. Less than 50% of them would, which is why we want to have third-party certification.

The thing you have to watch is the old saying, ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater.’

If a carrier bought a device knowing it may be on the FMCSA list but not up to standards and designed to cheat the rules, then if you get caught in the crosshairs and get taken out of business, I don’t care, I’m happy.

The PMTC’s concern with the road we’re going down is that you’re also going to have those on both sides of the border that did some research, looked into it, thought they were buying a compliant device, were told by the manufacturers that they would submit (the device) to be certified, (but) will not get certified.

(The carrier) will have to remove that device they thought was compliant, research new devices, install it in their trucks and train all their drivers in a very short timeframe. And that’s not right.

Transport Canada

TT: How does an organization become accredited to be a third-party certifier of ELDs in Canada?

TC: Transport Canada, in partnership with the Standards Council of Canada, has developed a mechanism for testing and certifying ELDs. Transport Canada consulted with ELD providers that operate in North America to develop the test procedures.

Any interested party may apply to the Standards Council of Canada and Transport Canada to be accredited as a certification body to test and certify ELDs. As of March 18, 2020, interested parties can apply to the Standards Council of Canada and Transport Canada to be accredited as a certification body to test and certify ELDs.

Adime Kofi Bonsi
Senior researcher

TT: Why did FPInnovations apply to become a third-party certifier for ELD devices in Canada?

Bonsi: FPInnovations has a strong background and expertise in vehicle telematics, on-board equipment, and fleet management solutions for commercial vehicle fleets based on a vast portfolio of technical testing capabilities. We also have a thorough understanding of the ELD regulatory context and on the functional specifications and fleet operational requirements. FPInnovations is therefore uniquely qualified to deliver independent testing of ELDs, having acquired expertise in this domain over the years, working with various technology providers, end-users, and industrial stakeholders.

TT: Do you have any experience working with ELD specifications in the U.S., and how will that help you on the Canadian side?

Bonsi: After the (U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) FMCSA issued a final rule requiring motor carriers and commercial drivers to use ELDs in the U.S., industry leaders asked FPInnovations’ testing laboratory (PIT Group) to develop a verification program for ELDs for the U.S. market. This was to ensure that ELD suppliers are accurately meeting complex technical standards.

TT: Why do you feel it is important that Canada adopted a third-party certification process as opposed to self-certification?

Bonsi: Third-party ELD certification ensures that all ELDs that are used go through an identical process, which is controlled by international standards. This provides confidence to end users that the ELDs they implement in their operations are indeed compliant with the technical standard. It also takes away the guesswork and burden of choice from fleets, and ensures parity when it comes to regulatory requirements.

  • Answers have been edited for grammar, clarity, and length.
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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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  • Hello I was wondering when and where we can find the approved list of ELD‘s for Canada.
    I’ve scoured the Alberta transportation website and on the Internet try try find this list.
    As a small trucking company 8 class 8 trucks we would like to get ahead of the deadline and find a system that’s suits our needs and become comfortable with it.
    Any advice would be much appreciated thank you.
    Jamie Mitchell.

    • It is now Feb 19, 2021 and according to Transport Canada website there are no accredited devices yet listed on the website. I’m not aware of a single device that has been approved. If supposed deadline is June 12, 2021 when are they going to get this done or when are they going to announce delaying the implementation?