Electronic logging device (ELD) providers and motor carriers are expressing increasing concerns over the upcoming deadline in Canada requiring the use of ELDs in most trucks.
Transport Canada, the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Transportation Department, set a start date of June 12, 2021 to replace paper logs with ELDs two years ago. The move by Transport Canada followed the required adoption of ELDs in the U.S. in 2017. These concerns north of the border center on differences in U.S. and Canadian ELD regulations and hours of service (HOS) rules.
The chief worry is Canada requires all ELDs to be certified by an accredited independent body as meeting the Canadian standards. In contrast, the U.S. allows self-certification by the ELD manufacturers. A glance at the Transport Canada webpage on ELDs shows, as of late March, no ELDs are certified for use and there is only one accredited certifying body, FPInnovations of Pointe Clare, Quebec.
How many ELDs are undergoing evaluation? FPInnovations says it only shares such information with Transport Canada. But the organization did reveal that the certification process takes four to six weeks.
Transport Canada largely followed the U.S. technical standards for ELDs but rejected the self-certification process after witnessing the U.S. market flooded by devices and wishful computer programs. Transport Canada wanted to avoid the issues caused by some early ELDs that did not live up to expectations or could not integrate with the transportation management systems on many trucks. So, Transport Canada opted for independent technical testing before the release of any ELDs to their market.
The Canadian ELD testing regime extends beyond initial approval for use. Transport Canada added a phased annual review of ELD functions, essentially resulting in a re-certification of an ELD over the course of four years. The initial approval and the re-certification process applies to every ELD model offered for use in Canada, not just to the ELD manufacturer of several models. The fees for that independent certification process represent an ongoing cost to ELD manufacturers. As a result, fleets operating in Canada cannot expect the same breadth of ELD options as in the U.S.
The transfer of data from the truck cab to the commercial vehicle enforcement officer represent a significant difference between the Canadian ELD technical standards and those in the U.S. Canadian regulations require the ELD to be capable of emailing a PDF file of the hours of service data to the roadside officer. Bluetooth and USB transfer are optional but not required. Truck drivers in Canada will require training on entering email addresses into the specific ELD model in their trucks. Unlike the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the U.S., Transport Canada does not have a DataQs system to allow carriers and drivers to challenge citations containing incorrect email addresses or other errors.
In recognition of the pending June 12 start date, Transport Canada recently announced a “progressive enforcement period,” with early enforcement measures consisting of education and awareness. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, Canada’s national trucking trade association, is working with the provinces, Canadian territories and national government to agree on a 12-month “soft” enforcement timetable. The fact that national regulations in Canada must be formally adopted by each province before actual enforcement can begin supports that extended introductory period. To date, most provinces have yet to take that step on the ELD regulation.
Meanwhile, motor carriers should recognize the need to purchase, install and integrate the approved ELDs, once known, plus train drivers in their operation. At least parts of that driver training can start now. Canadian HOS regulations differ from those in the U.S., as do some other safety regulations. Drivers educated in Canadian regulations will be better equipped to handle the brave new world of Canadian ELDs.