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What’s Going On With ELDs In Canada?

With all the talk of ELDs on this side of the border, we sometimes forget that the trucking industry is a North American operation, not just an American one. Our brothers and sisters in Canada are as much a part of the equation as we are.

And yet, despite getting ahead of the game where the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) standard is concerned, regulators north of the border are now struggling to catch up with the United States and have something in place by December of 2017.

Oh, Canada

Even though Canada has been considering the ELD devices since as far back as 2007, work didn’t begin in on a new standard until 2010. With a first draft completed in 2013, the Canadian rule was intended to follow the first ELD rule published by the FMCSA, but it was vacated by a Canadian court on the grounds that there was some ambiguity in the driver coercion clause.

Now, after deciding to wait, they are catching up to the U.S, who is now putting out the final rule. According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators’ Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Committee, they believed their initial decision was “justified.”

And even though the final rule was published at the tail end of 2015, Canada was a little burned because the U.S. didn’t involve them in the consultation process. According to a Canadian official, they were flummoxed as to why the U.S. didn’t include them, but reports that the FMCSA is now doing everything they can to resolve some of the differences between both policies.

By the time the final rule was laid out, Canadian officials met to determine what the differences were between the U.S. rule and the Canadian rule from 2013. They also set out to make whatever changes were required to align the two documents. This job was made all the more difficult by there being a significant number of differences between the policies.

Waiting for a Resolution

The final cut of the standard has now been completed and was revealed back in July. Industry partners and others involved in the process were allowed to comment and a final draft will be delivered to government ministers no later than April of 2017.

Although some say the timetable will be very tight, September of 2017 has been mentioned as the absolute final deadline before the Canadian rule must be delivered to the ministers. The extension is born mainly out of the fact that there are quite significant regulatory issues that must be worked through. Such examples include:

  • How to certify the devices.
  • Should current devices remain in service?
  • How should future ELD devices be certified?

Currently, Canada’s HOS rule call for ELDs, but only in a limited scope. Rule makers in Canada will likely need to put a grandfathering provision in place – much like the one we use here in the United States.

At the same time, the FMCSA is requiring that vendors self-certify. Still, they haven’t laid out specific policies or provided tools or test cases for companies to emulate. Individual jurisdictions in both countries are hesitant to set their own certification process, lest they run afoul of the final federal rule.

Yet because of the way the government is set up in Canada, the central government cannot force individual provinces to utilize a mandate applied to carriers operating within a province. The federal government can require ELDs for between provinces, but the provinces themselves must finalize the rules through specific legislation.

So what does this mean for the provinces themselves? While some have come out in full support of mandatory ELDs, others still haven’t bought into the idea and have clearly stated so. There are a number of positions being held, including the federal government’s. It looks like only time will tell how the ELD mandate debate will play out north of the border.

Details On The New ELD Mandate For Truckers

Have you heard? By 2017, truck operators will be federally mandated to use an electronic logging device (ELD). The rule will officially go into effect on December 16th, 2017. While many fleets are already volunteering to switch, if for nothing else than to utilize the benefits of this technology, the new rule will put a stamp on the total phase out of paper logs.

Once a fleet begins using an ELD, they will no longer be required to record and maintain paper logs. The rule requires truck drivers who may be currently using paper logs to move to ELDs, with a few exceptions, which we will cover below.

The rule also outlines specific safeguards against truck driver harassment, hardware specifications and supporting documentation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says the rule will save an estimated $1 billion in industry costs, mainly on the time and money that goes into maintaining extensive paper logs. Let’s take a look at each of the mandate’s key components.

Required ELD Use

The ELD mandate will apply to all truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty statuses. Exceptions include:

  • Truck drivers operating vehicles built before the year 2000 and before;
  • Truck drivers who keep records of duty status in eight or fewer days out a total of 30 working days at a time;
  • Truck drivers in drive-away and tow-away operations.

Device Specifications

The mandate does not require that ELDs track a vehicle or truck driver in real time. Furthermore, they do not mandate that the device include driver-carrier communication capabilities.

What they must be able to do is automatically record:

  • Date;
  • Time;
  • Location;
  • Engine hours;
  • Vehicle miles;
  • Truck driver ID information.

The rule also requires that compliant devices be able to transfer the data stored on them during roadside inspections, whether it be “on-demand”, wireless, email, USB 2.0 or Bluetooth. The ELD must also be able to create a graph grid of daily status changes, whether on the units themselves or in printouts.

Supporting Documents

While fleets and truck drivers will no longer be required to keep paper logs, they must have supporting documents on hand, whether electronic or on paper, for every 24-hour period of on-duty time. They must also submit these supporting documents to their carrier within 13 days. The carrier must then hold on to the documents for six months.

The supporting documents include:

  • Bills of lading, itineraries or schedules;
  • Dispatch or trip records;
  • Expense receipts;
  • Electronic mobile communication records;
  • Payroll records, settlement sheets or similar documents.

Harassment of Truck Drivers

Back in 2012, a similar ELD mandate was tossed out in court over its lack of protections against truck driver harassment. In accordance with that court ruling, the FMCSA’s new rule makes it expressly illegal for motor carriers to use the devices to harass truck drivers.

In addition to making it illegal to harass their drivers, the rule also puts fines in place for doing so. Additionally, it outlines a system by which truck drivers can report harassment.

But what exactly is truck driver harassment by ELD? The rule defines ELD harassment as any action by a motor carrier toward a truck driver when the carrier “knew or should have known” said action would interrupt a driver’s off-duty time. It goes on to define harassment as “involving information available to the fleet through an ELD or used in combination with, but not separable from the ELD.

There’s Still Time

While all of these changes may seem like a lot, fortunately motor carriers have until the end of 2017 to get them implemented. While it is estimated there will be some increased cost associated with the mandate, perhaps efficiencies in other areas will make up for the up-front cost.

Still, as the winds continue to shift on Capitol Hill, could we see even this rule relegated to infinite legislative flux? Only time will tell.

Electronic Logging Device (ELD) or E-Log Debate Heats Up

With the release of a new report showing that the use of an electronic logging device (ELD), or e-log, does not promote driver harassment, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has drawn new battle lines in an old war.

The New Rules

On March 13, 2014 the FMCSA released proposed rule changes that would require all drivers of commercial motor vehicles who file a Record of Duty Status (RODS) to equip an ELD for tracking hours of service. This rule change would affect around 3.1 million trucks and 3.4 million drivers.

Some of the proposed changes included:

  • That a truck’s engine be synced with the ELD to capture and store the following data elements:
    1. Date
    2. Time
    3. CMV location
    4. Engine hours
    5. Driver identification
    6. Vehicle identification
    7. Motor carrier identification
  •  That there are adequate communication methods installed for data transfer to law enforcement officers. A wireless and web based component is also required, but primary methods listed were Bluetooth, USB, email, or paper.
  •  A “grandfather” clause for current devices that may not meet the new standards. The expiration of this clause would occur four years after the publishing of the final rule.

Though the final rule won’t be published until next year and full compliance is not required until 2017, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) immediately came out in opposition, citing a study the FMCSA itself had done in May.

In the study the FMCSA claimed a “clear safety benefit” to using electronic logs. The OOIDA countered with two charges:

  1. That the study was “skewed” toward larger carriers (of the eleven carriers participating in the study, nine had more than 1,000 trucks).
  2. That there was a danger of driver harassment from carriers by mandating ELD use.

It seemed after that initial dust-up, the debate quieted down, at least until this month when the FMCSA set out to address those concerns.

The New Report

Released November 13, 2014 and entitled “Attitudes of Truck Drivers and Carriers on the Use of Electronic Logging Devices,” the new report concludes that driver harassment from ELD use is minimal. The FMCSA also attempted to address the prior study’s sampling issue by interviewing over 600 truck drivers at 24 truck stops around the country.

The study found that:

  • The use of e-logs did not increase carrier harassment compared to paper logs.
  • The majority of drivers reported having less paperwork to do.
  • Time is saved and hours compliance is easier.
  • The devices prevent them from doing the job the way they want.
  • They feel less independent.

With the release of this data, old battle lines have been redrawn and new voices are lending their weight to the issue. The OOIDA responded to the study by calling it “limited” and that “according to the data, mandated ELDs could mean nearly 300,000 truck drivers would experience harassment issues on a regular basis.” But could the OOIDA be isolated in its opposition?

As the final rule gets closer to its 2015 publishing, the American Trucking Association (ATA) and Trucking Alliance have come out saying that they agree with the findings in the new study. Both groups are arguing that the use of ELDs could potentially decrease driver harassment, rather than increase it, as the OOIDA fears.

The Trucking Alliance also tried to point to other benefits of ELDs in saying that “mandatory ELDs will help make truck drivers’ jobs easier,” and that “paper logbooks are prone to mistakes and are easily falsified to report fewer hours than the driver actually worked.”

Rob Abbot, VP of safety policy for the ATA points out that these tools “empower [drivers] to show that their carrier encouraged them to drive when tired or to break the rules.” In this way ELDs can assist in vindicating drivers who are being pressured by carriers.

This is a complicated argument that has shifted alliances among the industry and regulators. The comment period is over and now everyone waits for the rule’s final publication early next year. Is it possible to satisfy all parties or will new battle lines be drawn? Stay tuned.

 

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