Electronic logs, driver inspection reports discussed at TMC

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is serving for many fleets as a gateway towards digitizing other traditionally paper-based systems.

Take for example, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs).

“ELDs helped the industry to move to electronic systems overall,” said Fred Fakkema, vice-president – compliance with Zonar. “Paper is inefficient and mistakes can easily be made.”

Fleets that adopt eDVIRs are more likely to ensure drivers get out of the truck and complete their pre- and post-trip inspections. It also provides real-time insights into repairs that are required and can be tied into the fleet’s transportation management system (TMS). When audited, fleets using eDVIRs have easily searchable digital records available at their fingertips.

eDVIRs can help ensure drivers get out of the truck and perform their pre- and post-trip inspections. (Photo: Leo Barros)

Zonar did a study involving 1,100 vehicles and noted when switching to eDVIRs, defect rates initially soared.

“That’s because it was getting drivers walking around doing inspections, so you see those defects really come in at a high rate. Once those defects are corrected, vehicles are safer and the defect rate really goes down,” he said. “It’s really manageable for you now.”

Fleets warned on Canadian ELD mandate

Scott Stofer, director of safety and compliance with Orbcomm, updated fleets on the Canadian ELD mandate and the fact there are still – 51 days out from the June 12 implementation date – no devices approved for use here after that date.

“Be aware if you are crossing over [the border] that you will have to have an ELD that meets the Canadian standard,” he warned. “June 12 is that day. There’s no grandfather clause, no two-year phase-in approach.”

There is, however, a one-year phased-in enforcement period, the details of which are still being determined.

A key difference between the U.S. and Canadian mandates concerns how the logs are transferred to enforcement at roadside. There’s no eRODS option in Canada – logs will have to be transferred by email.

“Drivers are going to have to interact with the tablet,” Stofer said. “It can hang you up on the side of the road.”

While there have yet to be any ELDs certified by Canada’s lone certification body, FPInnovations, Stofer said third party-certification will reduce the number of compliant vendors from the 430 seen in the U.S., to about 20 to 60 here. He urged carriers to ask their ELD providers about their plans to certify their devices, and which will go through the process. Some suppliers may not certify all their products for use in Canada.

There may also be delays for certain models, as each has to go through the queue separately.

The U.S. experience

Michael Ahart, vice-president – regulatory affairs with Omnitracs, gave a snapshot of hours-of-service enforcement in the U.S. which shows the types of violations have changed since ELDs became mandatory.

Trucks using ELDs have 53% fewer driver-related HOS violations, and about the same decrease in non-driver related HOS violations. But the data may paint an incomplete picture since roadside inspections plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2018, there were more than a million full Level 1 inspections conducted at roadside, and that fell to 762,000 in 2020.

Omnitracs ELD
Omnitracs ELD (Photo: Omnitracs)

The ELD mandate does, however, seem to be having a positive effect on compliance.

Driving more than eight hours without a 30-minute break was the fifth most common violation in 2016, falling to #25 in 2020. But falsifying logs went from being the ninth most common violation in 2016 to the fourth most frequent in 2020.

Ahart attributes this to “misinterpretations” over details such as personal conveyance and yard moves.

“Drivers think it’s one thing, enforcement believes it’s another, and unfortunately enforcement is generally going to win that argument,” he said.

Electronic logs also make it easier for officers to spot irregularities. There is also an increase in HoS-related violations for things such as not having a sufficient supply of blank paper logs – violations that didn’t exist before the ELD mandate.

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • What are carriers waiting for? I’ve been on ELDs for 15 years, no more dispatchers calls to pull out a 2nd logbook, no more paperwork lots of rest