U.S. carriers need to prepare for Canadian ELD mandate

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – U.S. carriers operating north of the border need to ensure their electronic logging devices (ELDs) are compliant with the Canadian mandate come June 2021, or risk being put out of service.

During an opening day filled with Canadian content, Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC), highlighted during Omnitracs Outlook 2020 in Las Vegas, Nev. the impact Canada’s ELD mandate will have on U.S. carriers.

During a panel discussion on compliance and regulatory issues, Millian said the biggest concern around the Canadian ELD mandate is how many of the U.S.’s hundreds of certified devices will also be compliant in Canada.

With Canada using third-party certification, Millian said only a handful of ELD manufacturers will be legally certified in Canada. He added that carriers using a device from one of the larger companies – Omnitracs, Trimble, Geotab – should be in the clear, but those using devices from smaller manufacturers might need to prepare for a change if they haul cross-border.

Another issue Millian sees on the horizon is the timeline to when a third-party will be in place to begin approving ELDs in Canada. As it currently stands, it has been determined that the Standards Council of Canada will work with Transport Canada as the accrediting body. An ELD testing regime is in the works, with the second draft being completed just this month. A testing regime must be finalized prior to any device being tested for certification, and Millian said it will take until mid-2020 before all the pieces are in place.

Manufacturers can then submit devices for certification, a process expected to take four to six weeks.

“Best case scenario, in my opinion, is you’re looking at June 2020 before the first certified device comes out,” said Millian. “And that’s best-case…I don’t think that will happen.”

Millian said the length of time it has taken to establish a third-party certifying body will mean carriers will have to incorporate ELDs into their operations in a short period of time to be compliant by the June 2021 deadline. And those that are already using ELDs will have to hope their current devices are certified, because unlike the U.S., there will be no grandfather clause in the Canadian mandate.

Millian was against the removal of the grandfather clause in Canada, saying carriers that have already invested in ELDs should not be forced to switch devices should certification be an issue, in turn, diminishing the return on their original investment and punishing them for being proactive.

Kerri Wirachowsky, director of the Roadside Inspection Program for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), believes the removal of the grandfather clause is a good thing, as it eliminates confusion from both carriers and enforcement on the use of automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) and other electronic recording devices.

Wirachowsky said when it comes to ELDs, the most important thing for carriers is that drivers are properly trained to operate the device.

“Driver knowledge is very important,” she said, admitting that enforcement officers are not going to know how every device works, so drivers must be trained to ensure a smooth inspection process.

Practice does bring improvement, however, and as Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), said, CVSA officers in the U.S. are becoming more comfortable with ELDs.

Though ELD use has resulted in a steep decline in HOS violations, false records infractions have gone way up, something DeLorenzo attributes to officers knowing how to locate and identify the violation.

“We’ve seen that jump in learning that I would like to see in last three or four months,” said DeLorenzo, adding that he does not want to see that progress slip in the coming months.

Omnitracs Outlook 2020
From left: Mike Millian, Joe DeLorenzo, Kerri Wirachowsky, and moderator Mike Ahart.

Another significant regulation being looked at in the U.S. is HOS, and what kind of flexibilities will be permitted.

DeLorenzo would not provide a timeline on when a final rule for HOS will be released, but said it is a top priority.

“Any time you’re talking about HOS its complicated,” he said, highlighting how the 14-hour rule that has been in place since 2003 saw little to no pushback until recently.

But when it comes to being compliant, Millian says flexibility is key.

“The less flexible your rules are,” he said, “the less safe they are.”

Compared to the U.S.’s straight 14-hour rule, in Canada, drivers are allowed 13 hours of driving time, 14 hours on-duty, all within a 16-hour window.

Millian believes when drivers are not given flexibility in their HOS, they are more likely to push things to the limit to make the most of the hours they are allotted.

DeLorenzo said a lot has changed in the industry since 2003 when the U.S.’s 14-hour rule was adopted – such as infrastructure, traffic congestion, and even the Amazon effect – and all that will factor in to the new HOS rule and the flexibilities that will come with it.

In the leadup to Canada’s ELD mandate, Kam Roshan, lead product manager for Omnitracs, reminded U.S. carriers hauling into Canada that as it stands now, whatever device they are currently using is not certified in Canada, as that process has not yet started.

U.S. drivers are able to continue using paper logs in Canada until June 2021. Drivers must also remember that eRODS (used to upload HOS data to the FMCSA) are not to be used in Canada, as the FMCSA is not required to track HOS in Canada.

Once the Canadian mandate is in place, email uploads will be used to transfer data to enforcement officers during inspections. Bluetooth and USB will also be options.

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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 TruckNews.com. 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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  • Canada is not set up for ELOG we don’t have the facilities like the usa Alberta to B.C highway sucks why do we follow the USA in every thing they do. We want to be a industrialized country but we are too cheap to spend the funds but we try to do everything the usa does