A new era of road safety regulations begins in Canada on Saturday as electronic logging devices that record a driver’s hours behind the wheel become mandatory on articulated trucks that travel between provinces.
The electronic logging devices (ELDs) replace the use of paper logbooks and will be a requirement from June 12 as part of a federal ordinance to prevent fatigue in commercial drivers.
The regulation applies to commercial vehicles and buses that cross provincial and territorial borders. Industry representatives welcome the change.
“It will force [non-compliant trucking companies] to get into the game and be compliant and safe or face the consequences, “said Stephen Laskowski, President of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
He estimates that the requirements for certified ELDs will target around 15 to 25 percent of the trucking industry, which routinely makes compromises on regulatory issues – in “a downside of our industry, a small but growing downside,” said Laskowski.
According to federal service hours, drivers are not allowed to drive more than 13 hours per day and must have at least 10 hours off duty each day, of which at least eight hours must be consecutive.
When the ELD regulation was developed, Transport Canada found that provincial and territorial governments recorded an annual average of 9,400 hours of service violations by drivers between 2010 and 2015.
About a quarter of this concerned exceeding the maximum number of hours for drivers. Another 11 percent were convicted of operating two diaries at the same time or falsifying the information in one diary.
Nearly half of service hour convictions – approximately 48 percent – related to failure to keep or keep daily logs.
“It will be a great day for the industry itself,” said Laskowski about the new regulation.
“It will make the Canadian roads safer and make it a better industry to work in.”
He says around 70 percent of trucks in Canada already have ELDs, in part because the United States began gradually reducing their use in 2017.
The difference between the Canadian and US systems is that ELDs used in Canada must undergo a third-party certification process to make them less susceptible to tampering or data hacking.
Veteran drivers are not convinced that ELDs will increase safety
“They are a blessing and a curse,” said veteran truck driver Jesse Scobie at a rest stop in Headingley, west of Winnipeg, before a trip to California.
“You don’t have to write a paper log – that’s a good point. But they keep you under the gun with the electronic log,” said Scobie, a truck driver for 25 years.
He says the ELDs are “just another distraction,” and he’s not convinced the devices will actually improve road safety.
“There are times when you get into it,” he said. “It gives you a little red light, some annoying voice warnings.”
He says he has used an ELD for years since the devices became mandatory in the US
The Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates that around 70 percent of trucks in Canada already have ELDs. The new regulation stipulates that the devices must go through a third-party certification in order to make them less susceptible to tampering. (Gary Solilak / CBC)
Although ELDs will become mandatory in Canada on Saturday, Transport Canada says operators won’t be penalized for trucks that don’t have an approved device until June 2022.
Instead, enforcement begins with education and awareness, Transport Canada spokeswoman Cybelle Morin said in an email to CBC.
“This period, which is being developed with the support of the provinces and territories and in consultation with the industry, will give the industry ample time to obtain and install certified electronic logging devices without penalty,” she said.
“Transport Canada has learned from the US experience of adopting electronic logging equipment, including the challenges of ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the equipment,” said Morin.
“To address these challenges, the department requested a third-party certification process to ensure the devices were tamper-proof,” she said.
Trucks that do not cross borders into other provinces are subject to provincial regulations, and Manitoba’s requirements for ELDs won’t go into effect until December 2021.
Laskowski says the trucking alliance wants full enforcement of the new requirement, which is also due to begin on Saturday, but added that it won’t because the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the third party certification process.
Companies now have a year to get certified logging equipment on all of their trucks. Transport Canada says a company called FPInnovations of Pointe Claire, Que., Will be the first to be accredited to test ELDs for certification. Once a device has been certified, it will be listed on the Transport Canada website.
“These devices must be certified for protection against manipulation, ie at the end of the next 12 months every truck will be within operating hours,” said Laskowski. “And that’s a big step for public safety and a big step for the compliant industry that rules by what is good for public safety and good for business.”
Potential for “Malicious Activity” Exists: FBI
In 2020, the US FBI warned the transportation industry that cybercriminals could exploit “vulnerabilities” in electronic logging devices.
“Researchers have shown that malicious activity can remotely compromise the ELDs and send instructions to vehicle components to cause unexpected and undesirable vehicle behavior,” the FBI Cyber Department wrote.
The ELDs keep track of things like the date, time, location information, engine hours and vehicle identification data, the FBI found.
Transport Canada claims to be aware of the FBI report and not to have received any reports of ELD hacking in Canada.
The logbook problem came up when truck driver Sarbjit Matharu in Winnipeg on Jan.
The judge’s written decision states that Matharu admittedly made a false entry in his log to create the appearance that he was getting enough sleep in case he was stopped and examined.
A hearing will begin in Toronto on June 21st convicting Matharu of five cases of criminal negligence, resulting in death and personal injury.