On the clock

by James Menzies

BRAMPTON, Ont. —  It’s official. On the day the U.S. electronic logging device (ELD) mandate went into effect Dec. 18, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau gathered with trucking industry leaders bearing an early Christmas gift, in the form of a law that would by 2020 require ELDs to be used in Canada as well.

“We’re constantly looking at how technology can improve road safety, and electronic stability control and electronic logging devices fit the bill,” said Garneau. “These new measures not only make trucks and buses safer, but they also have a trickle-down effect of making the roads safer for all Canadians.”

Kriska professional driver Louis Carette shows federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau how electronic logging devices work.

It was a long-awaited and welcome announcement for many in the trucking industry, but a contentious requirement that is still loathed by many owner-operators, drivers, and small fleets. Garneau was accompanied at the launch, hosted by Trailcon Leasing, by Ontario Transport Minister Steven Del Duca, the only provincial transport boss who has yet publicly endorsed the mandate.

“Ontario has a strong record of adopting and supporting initiatives that further improve road safety. Three years ago, our government became the first in Canada to publicly endorse the use of electronic logging devices,” said Del Duca. “I commend Transport Canada for taking this important step toward making these devices mandatory.”

“Minister Del Duca has been a great partner for OTA in improving truck safety. ELDs are going to reduce fatigue in commercial drivers, which will have a positive impact on reducing distracted driving collisions and increasing safety for our sector,” added Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) president Stephen Laskowski.

The OTA and Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) have been pushing for an ELD mandate in Canada for years, and OTA said after the announcement that it wants to see the regulation enforced as soon as possible. That wish was echoed by CTA chairman Gene Orlick.

“CTA knows Minister Garneau wants to see enforcement of this important safety regulation as soon as possible. During the comment period of the Canada Gazette 1
process, our sector will be working with all provincial stakeholders to support Minister Garneau’s safety vision,” said Orlick, who is owner and president of Orlicks Inc. in Calgary, Alta.

“The U.S.’s experience in implementing ELDs has shown us that even with two years to prepare, there will be some in our sector that never choose to comply in time. While we need to be respectful of the transition time requirements of ELD implementation to businesses and governments, we also must not manage to the lowest common denominator and ensure everybody is fairly complying with the rules.”

However, the Canadian mandate, as proposed, won’t require ELDs to be used until 2020, with existing devices permitted until 2022. While that may seem too far in the future to some, domestic fleets shouldn’t drag their fleet, warns Marilyn Daniel, chief operating officer of Titanium Transportation, which has rolled the devices out across its operations. She said Titanium implemented ELDs over a two-year period, and learned lots along the way.

“We started off with volunteers and worked our way through the fleet piece by piece, in terms of sectors (U.S., local, flatdeck, etc.),” she explained in an interview with Truck News. “Using ELDs for the driver was not hard. Most drivers like it better than having to worry about their paper. That’s the easy part.”

The bigger challenge, she acknowledged, was improving dispatcher coordination, since drivers were no longer able to make up for dispatch inefficiencies with tweaks to their paper logbooks. Daniel said the impact on drivers at Titanium has been minimal since transitioning to e-logs.

“The only way I’ve seen it really affect drivers, is changing their habits in how they start their day and end their day,” she explained, noting the clock starts ticking the moment the truck is started. “They have to start their day ready to go to work, where in the past they may start the truck and move it to the shop and may not get going for another hour. That was the luxury the driver had. Today, it’s going to cost them working time.”

Like fleets that attended the Canadian announcement, Daniel said she wishes the mandate here would be fully implemented sooner.

“I wish it was coming to Canada sooner than it is,” she said. “I wish it was starting earlier, and that it was in conjunction with the U.S.”

She anticipates fewer drivers will want to run the U.S. with the mandate already in effect there, which could put pressure on domestic rates.

“I’m seeing drivers that are willing to go to the U.S. are harder to find,” she said. “More drivers want to stay in Canada, and I think that’s going to affect Canadian rates. I would say, local or Ontario-only or Canada-only drivers and freight will be negatively affected by this, whereas on the U.S. side we will see a significant increase in rates, which lets U.S. drivers perform significantly better.”

In addition to Orlicks, other carriers were also represented at the announcement, including Kriska, Onfreight Logistics, Arnold Bros. Transport, and Kenan Advantage Group. The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), which represents private fleets and has been a longtime proponent of e-logs, also welcomed the announcement.

“The PMTC and its members are extremely pleased about this announcement,” said PMTC president Mike Millian. “Our membership has been involved in the consultations with the department and are firm believers that this regulation will benefit the entire industry. Electronic logs will make compliance easier to verify, ensuring all carriers are following the hours-of -service rules. This will result in a leveling of the playing field within the industry and improved road safety for all.”

The regulation was posted in Canada Gazette 1 and can be viewed in its entirety at: www.tinyurl.com/CanadaELD.

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  • Don’t do it! It has been a nightmare and disaster in the US! Too many issues, costly damage to equip dealerships are saying warranties voided due to connecting device to ECM, costing small business revenue & having to close their business. Providers are not capable of providing necessary support, devices malfunction daily, enforcement not trained to fairly and properly enforce, unconstitutional and infringes on privacy as a citizen!