The introduction of electronic logging devices and ELD providers is making slow progress across Canada. U.S. motor carriers who operate north of the border, however, should take action soon to purchase, install and integrate approved Canadian ELDs and train their drivers. That’s because Canada will enforce the ELD mandate in less than a year.
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. The move by Transport Canada followed the required adoption of ELDs in the U.S. in 2017. But take note north of the border for differences in ELD regulations and hours of service (HOS) rules.
Canada requires an accredited independent body to certify all ELDs 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 early November, at least six ELDs are certified for use, with one approved as recently as Nov. 15, 2021. Also, there are now three accredited certifying bodies: FPInnovations of Pointe Clare, Quebec; Commercial Driver Technology Inc. of Sherwood Park, Alberta and CSA Group of Toronto, Ontario.
How many additional ELDs are undergoing evaluation? The certifying bodies only share such information with Transport Canada.
Transport Canada largely follows 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 range of ELD options as in the U.S.
The transfer of data from the truck cab to the commercial vehicle enforcement officer represents a significant difference between the Canadian ELD technical standards and those in the U.S. Canadian regulations require the ELD to email 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 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 June 12, 2021 start date, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators announced on May 5, 2021 a yearlong “progressive enforcement period,” with early enforcement measures consisting of education and awareness and no penalties until June 12, 2022. Each province in Canada must formally adopted the national regulations. That helps explain the introductory period. The provinces are still completing that step of the ELD regulation.
Motor carriers should recognize the need to purchase, install and integrate the approved ELDs, 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.