By Alex Binkley

The full adoption of electronic logging devices (ELDs) for all commercial trucks and buses moved a big step forward in late October when Transport Minister Marc Garneau designated a third-party certification process to begin testing commercially-available devices. His announcement was immediately lauded by Teamsters Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), which have been pushing for official adoption of them for more than a year. ELDs will be required by June 12, 2021.

In a joint statement, Teamsters and CTA urged carriers to ask potential ELD suppliers to have their devices tested. They said there are multiple ELD vendors with products to suit fleets of all sizes. “They are committed to transitioning the industry toward this important field initiative, which will improve road safety and level the playing field for the trucking industry.”

Transport Canada estimates that mandatory ELDs will reduce the risk of fatigue-related collisions by approximately 10 per cent. Their use also eliminates the need for paper daily logbooks and reduces the time enforcement officers need to verify regulatory compliance. They will also bring Canada in line with U.S. requirements for its truckers and that will “will support economic growth, trade, and transportation on both sides of the border,” the department said.

Teamsters Canada President François Laporte said, “We are now one step closer to a future where all trucking companies have to play by the same set of rules and put safety first.” CTA President Stephen Laskowski said, “The process for ELD validation is expected to take three to four weeks with the certifying body being able to handle multiple ELD vendors at the same time. All systems are a-go for a new era of hours of service compliance beginning in June 2021, which covers the Canadian trucking industry engaged in inter-provincial and international trade.”

FP Innovations, the certifying body, is very familiar with the trucking industry and well positioned to serve in this role, he said. It’s expected to soon announce guidelines on how ELD providers can apply for device certification. ELDs are seen as a key way to improve road safety by reducing commercial driver fatigue. They are tamper-resistant devices integrated into the engines to ensure that commercial drivers stay within their daily driving limit and accurately log their working hours.

Last year Transport Canada announced that all federally regulated commercial trucks and buses operating in Canada would have to be equipped with certified ELDs and launched discussions with industry on how best to implement the decision. The issue gained a lot of attention following the tragic bus crash of a transport truck with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team in Saskatchewan. The truck driver had 70 regulation violations not fully captured by his paper log book.

Garneau said FP Innovations “will ensure a consistent, reliable, and accurate certification process.” ELD certification “is a major milestone on our path towards improving road safety in Canada by having these devices installed in commercial vehicles.”

The provinces and territories, and a significant number of industry stakeholders supported creating a third-party certification requirement for electronic logging devices so that motor carriers and roadside enforcement can be assured that a device is compliant with the criteria set out in the technical standard, and that the driver’s records of duty status are reliable.

An ELD connects to the electronic control module of a vehicle. They make it easier and faster to track, manage, share and improve the accuracy of a driver’s hours of service record. This helps drivers stay within legally allowed driving hours, and reduce fatigue.

Unlike the paper log books, which can be easily altered or falsified, ELDs will make it far easier and quicker to ensure drivers stick to the 13 hours a day they’re allowed to be on the road.