CTA: Canada Should Follow U.S. ELD Mandate

TORONTO, ON – Thursday’s announcement of the final U.S. rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) in late 2017, puts Canada “under the gun” to do the same thing, according to one group here at home, while reaction to the plan where it was born is mixed.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says the move by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration removes any remaining argument for the Canadian governments not to move forward with a similar mandate in Canada.

For over a decade this group representing 4,500 trucking companies says it has been lobbying the Canadian governments to introduce regulations that would force all trucks where the driver is currently required to produce a paper log book in order to monitor compliance with the hours of service (HOS) regulations to be equipped with an ELD instead.

“This is a matter of principle for us,” says CTA’s CEO, David Bradley. “Safety and fair competition is compromised by the continued reliance on an archaic and inefficient paper-based system for monitoring and enforcing what is arguably the single most important of the National Safety Code standards.”

CTA says the previous federal government announced its commitment to moving forward with a Canadian mandate and so far there has been no indication the new Trudeau government will change course on that direction, but the group no doubt is ready to see some evidence the plan will more forward.

“To date, the only province to state its commitment to introducing an ELD mandate at the provincial level so far is Ontario,” says CTA. “The other provinces have for the most part remained on the sidelines or indicated a preference for a voluntary approach.”

According to CTA, beyond development of a draft technical standard by the Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Committee of the Canadian Council of Motor Carrier Administrators and a benefit-cost analysis by Transport Canada – which is expected to make a strong case in favor of a mandate but which has yet to be made public – other work, such as the development of an enforcement policy and the writing of an actual regulation, has for the most part been waylaid while the governments waited to see what the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-awaited final rule would look like.

The answer to that came today, says CTA with the release of the FMCSA’s final rule, which will be officially published Friday. It will come into force by the end of 2017, signaling the end of paper log books for about 3 million U.S. commercial drivers and Canadian drivers operating in and out of the country.

ATA, TCA Happy with ELD Plan, OOIDA Critical

In the meantime, reaction to the plan in the U.S. has been mixed with the country’s largest fleet group praising the decision.

“Today is truly a historic day for trucking,” says American Trucking Assocations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves. “This regulation will change the trucking industry, for the better , forever. An already safe and efficient industry will get more so with the aid of this proven technology.”

Since 2010, a requirement for electronic logging devices to monitor driver hours-of-service has been a top priority for ATA

“Today’s important announcement could not have happened without Congressional support, so we thank Congress and congratulate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for moving forward on this requirement,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and chief of national advocacy. “ATA looks forward to working closely with FMCSA, state law enforcement agencies, as well as our members and industry partners during the two-year transition to full implementation of this safety technology.”

David Heller, director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), told Heavy Duty Trucking magazine that there’s nothing unexpected in the rule.

“TCA applauds the efforts of FMCSA in promulgating an electronic logging device regulation that aids in alleviating some of the burdens regarding supporting documents, eases compliance with the hours-of-service regulations and furthers the efforts of the agency in the fight against driver coercion and harassment.”

Heller also said the rule “clearly relieves carriers and drivers of furnishing supporting documents pertaining to on-duty/driving time. It also outlines the performance specs for ‘FMCSA compliant'” ELDs, which will aid carriers when finding a device that is practical for their fleets. 

And he noted that the mandate also appears to exempt drivers of trucks built before model year 2000, as they “lack the electronic feasibility to incorporate ELDs with those engines.”

In contrast, reaction from one group representing truck drivers, the the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), told the newspaper The Trucker, it is reviewing details of the rule with an eye on how FMCSA intends to deal with the issue of driver harassment.

“We know of no technology that automatically tracks a driver’s record-of-duty status and so ELDs will not be able to verify compliance with HOS regulations,” OOIDA spokesperson Norita Taylor said to the newspaper. “ELDs can only track movement of a truck and approximate location, not the work status of a driver, which requires input from the driver. The government’s own data shows that carriers with ELDs crash more, not less, based on miles travelled. Also, note that ELDs can be revised remotely by a carrier.”

OOIDA’s reaction to the ELD proposal is hardly surprising, considering it rarely agrees on anything the FMCSA decides upon. When the agency made its first attempt to require ELDs, OOIDA filed suit against FMCSA when a judge ruled the plan did not properly address the issue of driver harassment, according to The Trucker. That forced FMCSA back to the drawing board.

Details of the U.S. rules, including technical performance and design requirements for ELD’s, grandfathering provisions for existing hours of service recording devices, smart phone/tablet applications, driver anti-harassment provisions, and supporting documents paperwork reductions can be found here.  

Update includes reaction from TCA. 

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