Preparing for ELDs

by Derek Clouthier

EDMONTON, Alta. — Though there is not yet a definitive date for when electronic logging devices (ELDs) will become a legal requirement in Canada, it will certainly happen sooner rather than later, and a recent group of panelists urged carriers to be prepared.

Speaking during the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Safety Conference and Trade Show March 31, Andrew Barnes, director of compliance and regulatory affairs for the AMTA, said consultation on the federal government’s ELD draft is expected to begin this July, with the mandate becoming law sometime between December 2017 and 2018, which would be followed by a 24- to 48-month implementation period.

Barnes said with ELDs presently voluntary in Canada – and with the device becoming law in the US this December – 67% of carriers in Canada use some form of ELD to keep track of drivers’ hours-of-service (HoS), and 86% employ the use of GPS.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) sent out a draft technical standard of the proposed ELD mandate, and Barnes said it pretty much mirrors the US version.

Some of the key inclusions in the draft include a technical performance-based standard for suppliers of ELDs; the Canadian version does not have to mirror the US’s, but cannot be in conflict; must be consistent with existing HoS regulations; must synchronize with the engine control module; and you must be able to view the ELD while outside the cab.

Yard miles, certification, and a final technical standard are three areas that have not been finalized or addressed at this point.

Barns said a cost-to-benefit study on the use of ELDs found a benefit ratio of 2:1 because of the time savings per driver each year, reduction in HoS violations, leveling the playing field and the elimination of forms and logbook violations.

A panel discussion – that included Kevin Taylor, SLH Transport, Dan McCormack, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement inspector, Tom Hanna, Grimshaw Trucking, Barnes, and moderated by Jane Douziech, AMTA manager of business development – recommended carriers not only start looking for an ELD vendor before a law is in place, but also ensure each staff member is properly trained on how to use the device.

Taylor said SLH Transport is using the Shaw tracking system, and that training for the device took around two to two-and-a-half hours, after which he gives drivers another two weeks where they use both the ELD and paper log to get used to the new technology.

“I wouldn’t hold off with the US starting this December,” Taylor said. “We wanted to get our drivers up to speed before the deadline for compliance.”

Hanna agreed, adding the fear of losing drivers with the implementation of an ELD policy did not come to fruition at Grimshaw Trucking.

“We’ve lost nobody,” he said. “Once our drivers got onto it, they liked it.”

Grimshaw Trucking uses PeopleNet devices, and when it came to training, Hanna said there were some challenges in getting the company’s operations personnel to accept the fact it was their job to check the drivers’ ELDs and HoS to ensure compliance.

Hanna advised companies looking to train staff on an ELD to have someone who understands the process lead the way for all employees.

McCormack said one of the challenges for CVE officers is knowing how each of the ELD devices work, as there are several different models on the market, as well as apps that can be used on a driver’s smartphone.

During an inspection, CVE policy is to have the driver e-mail or fax their HoS records to the officer, who is equipped with a device that can accept the data. Drivers can still maintain paper logs in addition to using their ELDs, and can produce those as a backup. McCormack said there is no issue with drivers keeping two sets of logs – ELD and paper – as long as the HoS are the same and in compliance.

McCormack said in 2016 there were just over 6,000 HoS violations in Alberta, down from 8,000 the year prior and 10,000 in 2014.

In the end, McCormack said, it’s all about safety.

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  • When I hear this fuss about ELD I get sick. And please don’t talk about safety. Honest drivers will get a helpful tool. Carriers and drivers who always cheated will keep cheating since every ELD I tested so far has a way of changing logs