MILTON, ON – The clock is ticking toward a mandate for Electronic Logging Devices (ELD’s) in the U.S. – but Canada is now expected to establish its version of a mandate no sooner than the spring of 2019.
U.S. regulators require the devices south of the border as of December 18. The Canadian timeline is based on the first draft of anticipated rules being published in Canada Gazette: Part 1 at the end of this year, followed by a 60-day comment period, and at least one year for the rollout of an actual mandate following publication in Canada Gazette: Part 2, says Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC).
Even a rollout based on that slower schedule can expect some stiff opposition.
While Canadian industry lobbyists have been pushing for a two-year rollout, news of a one-year timeline began to emerge in June, he noted during a seminar on Thursday. “One year is pretty short for all the devices that are going to have to be installed.”
The latest dates already represent a delay in the legislative process on this side of the border. Transport Canada had been expected to have its plan reviewed by the Treasury Board this month. Now that seems unlikely to happen before the end of the year, Millian said.
He expects Canadian ELD rules to largely copy their U.S. counterparts with a few exceptions. While the U.S. will exempt trucks that are rented for eight days or less, Transport Canada has indicated it plans to stick with a 30-day exemption, Millian said as an example. That’s what Truck Rental and Leasing Association (TRALA) originally wanted.
Millian was also critical of the U.S. approach that has manufacturers self-certifying their own devices. “It’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard of,” he said, noting how some devices were registered before rules were even finalized.
Transport Canada has indicated that it plans to follow a similar path.
A device is not automatically compliant because it is listed on the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, Millian warned. The name just verifies that the manufacturer has itself certified the device. He even thinks some suppliers will disappear once devices are proven not to comply with the rules.
Users are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their devices comply.
“It’s going to be reliant upon you as a carrier to do your homework and check these devices out,” Millian said, noting that people have just eight days to replace any decertified equipment. One referenced option that fleets can use to protect themselves is to request third-party certification by PIT Group of FPI Innovations, a Canadian organization that now offers the service.
And Millian cautions against adopting Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD’s) instead of compliant Electronic Logging Devices, even if the technology will be grandfathered until December 16, 2019.
“Trying to rush out and try to put something in your vehicles that is not compliant is a flawed strategy at best,” he said. If any trucks are replaced after December 18, after all, they will have to be fitted with Electronic Logging Devices. At that point, fleets would be left managing two separate technologies.
Millian remains a supporter of ELD’s, having introduced the devices at Hensall District Cooperative in 2013, when he worked at that Ontario fleet. But based on that experience, he knows rollouts take time.
“If you’re running into the states and don’t have ELD’s installed, you’re already late,” he said. Best practices involve reviewing two or three suppliers, installing devices in all vehicles, and then training drivers and office teams alike. “It’s not something you’re going to do by flicking a switch.”
Drivers should continue to carry paper logs in case a newly installed ELD breaks down, he added. Carriers also need to ensure they’re available for calls that will undoubtedly emerge because of issues like drivers forgetting to log into the device. “You’re going to see a lot of that at the start.”
“Stuff’s going to happen. Nothing’s perfect.”
Millian also recommends providing drivers with a “cheat sheet” or visor card to answer basic questions such as how to read the screen, access information, and send details to an enforcement officer. “It’s not up to the officer to go into the device and get the information they need,” he said.
But Hensall found that the devices reduce paperwork. Driver logs were verified automatically, and driver files holding six months of paper logbooks were replaced with digital files.
“They’re no longer drawing squiggly lines all the time. They log in, they log out,” he said of the driver experience. “That I can guarantee.” Form-and-manner violations like incorrect dates disappeared, as did issues caused by drivers incorrectly adding up their available hours.
Fleets will have lessons of their own to learn when it comes to tracking the available hours. “You as a company also see all this as well, so you’re going to have a lot more responsibility,” he said, recommending daily checks of reports.
Once Hensall installed the devices, he began training 10 drivers who were expected to most resist the change. “There was a lot of 3 a.m. phone calls from drivers who forgot to log in, forgot to log out,” he admitted. But those early steps presented the opportunity to refine the training. The drivers were initially split in their support, but within six months the ELD’s were welcomed by 90% of them.