Since the 1930’s, commercial, large-vehicle drivers have used paper log books to track Hours of Service (HOS) as their Record of Duty Status. The regulations surrounding HOS are determined by the federal government (if the driver/truck crosses provincial borders), or the provincial government (if the driver/truck only operates within the province). In both cases, the regulations are enforced by the provincial transportation authorities.
Paper log books are manually completed and rely exclusively on the driver’s input. They are time consuming and difficult to manage and audit.
Electronic Logging Devices (ELD’s) replicate and automate the log book process. Engine information on speed, motion changes, distance driven, and engine hours are automatically tracked and loaded into the ELD system. GPS location information is also tracked in the ELD. The driver simply needs to log in, and comment on each change of status. They have been used, in various forms, for a number of years.
In the USA, ELD’s will be mandatory by December 2017, with only a few exceptions allowed. This is a major transition for the transportation industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently provided the detailed technical standards surrounding ELD’s.
On the Canadian side, the Ministry of Transport indicated, in March 2015, that Canada would follow the USA and require ELD’s at some point in the future. With the transition to the new Liberal government, it appears that there was a loss of momentum on the initiative. There has been no formal indication that the Liberals will press ahead with an ELD mandate, but all indications are that it will happen. There are no technical standards yet.
If Canada decides to synchronize with the USA, (imperative, given the huge cross border traffic involved), we are rapidly coming to a time crunch. Implementing new technology in the transportation industry is very cumbersome – hardware installation in mobile equipment; testing; driver training; integration and/or development of backend management software.
✅Each trucking segment has its own issues:
- Companies currently using paper log books only. They will have to educate themselves on available compliance solutions and be prepared for a very short implementation window.
- Companies currently using in-truck technology. There is a wide range of onboard devices, used primarily for communications (dispatch), GPS locations, waybill generation, etc. Some systems will be able to be upgraded to meet the ELD standards. Others will not.
- Companies currently using ELD technology. Will their system meet the technical standards?
- Companies operating into the USA. They have some decisions to make. If they implement ELD’s to the US standard, will those systems meet Canadian specs or even be able transition to the current Canadian HOS regulations.
For those of you who remember trucking deregulation, TDG regulations, and the various changes to HOS rules, you’ll recognize that the challenges involved with ELD’s will be significant.