As of April 1, 2018, U.S. trucking carriers and owner-operators were forced to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. While there are still efforts by some groups to try and reverse that rule in the U.S., Canada seems to be having a much easier transition to ELDs, even if the goalposts keep moving.
First announced in 2017, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) still has not finalized an ELD rule even as the majority of the rule piggybacks off the U.S. rule and standards. A formal rule was initially expected by the end of this year.
“We thought it may be done this year, but I don’t think that will happen, so it could be early next year,” explains Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory affairs for Omnitracs.
In developing its own ELD rule, CCMTA relied heavily on the work already completed in the U.S.
“The approach was to use the functional requirements in the U.S. rule as a foundation and modify where necessary to Canada’s own unique operational and regulatory requirements,” the group noted in a draft of the technical standards. “This standard does not have to mirror the U.S. rule; however, it doesn’t conflict with U.S. functional requirements for interoperability purposes. The Canadian approach was to ensure consistency and interoperability by adapting the U.S. ELD final rule to Canada’s own unique operational and regulatory requirements.”
The agency went to say that “the vast majority of ELD features and functionality will be driven by the U.S. ELD market.”
Cuthbertson points out that as of now, it appears that there is about a 75% overlap between the rules, although that could change as CCMTA reviews comments to the proposed rule and makes any requested changes.
A Gazette 1, which is a request for comments, was issued earlier this year. Cutherbertson and Omnitracs, in submitted comments, pushed for as much harmonization as possible between the Canadian and U.S. rule.
There are a few significant differences, though, particularly as it relates to transfer of information. In the U.S., hours-of-service information can be transferred electronically or through email, or via a “local” transfer option such as USB or Bluetooth. A driver must also be able to print a copy of the log or display the information on a display screen if requested. U.S. carriers are also required to submit detailed files or reports of an eight-day log if requested by enforcement.
In Canada, however, drivers will likely only be required to send a pdf of a 14-day log. Cuthbertson says this is because Canadian enforcement officials do not possess the same ERODs system U.S. enforcement does to easily transfer data.
“In Canada, they basically do not have any infrastructure available to them to do this,” he points out.
The proposed Canadian law also requires the devices to measure Canadian Cycle 1, 2 and above 60th parallel hours-of-service rules separately.
“Cycle 1 allows drivers to accumulate 70 hours of on-duty time over 7 days, while Cycle 2 allows drivers to accumulate 120 hours of on-duty time over 14 days,” the Canadian regulations read. “If a driver reaches the 70-hour or 120-hour limits, then he/she can reset the cycle by taking 36 hours or 72 hours of off-duty time, respectively. Drivers may also switch from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2 by taking 36 hours of off-duty time, or switch from Cycle 2 to Cycle 1 by taking 72 hours of off-duty time.”
The above 60th parallel rule allows drivers to drive 15 hours or 18 hours of on-duty time after which the driver must take at least 8 hours off duty before driving again. “The rules prohibit drivers from driving after 20 hours have elapsed from the start of the work shift,” the regulations read. “The 20-hour period is determined by the conclusion of the most recent period of 8 or more hours off duty to the start of the next period of 8 or more hours off duty. The 20 hours includes all driving, on-duty, and off-duty time between the 8-hour off-duty periods.”
Cuthbertson says that for ELD makers, the changes are significant but can be handled by software changes and do not require the need for a separate Canadian device.
Canadian devices are also likely to require location data sources, similar to U.S. devices, except that information will be supplied by the Canadian government, according to a blog on the subject on KeepTruckin’s website.
Another significant difference is in personal conveyance. While U.S. drivers have leeway in how far they can drive, Canada strictly limits personal conveyance moves to 75 kilometers within 24 hours. If a driver exceeds that limit, the ELD would be required to automatically switch the driver from “personal conveyance” mode to “driving” mode.
The final piece of the puzzle may come in certification of the devices. U.S. suppliers were required to “self-certify” that their ELDs met all federal specs and regulations but Canada seems to be heading down a third-party certification process, Cuthbertson says.
Whenever the Canadian rule is finalized and implemented, Cuthbertson indicates that the experience providers went through developing ELD devices for the U.S. market will prove valuable.
“It’s going to be specification [work that needs to be done],” he says. “There’s going to be work, but I don’t think it will be as much as [was needed to meet U.S. rules] because a lot of it will be the same.”
Cuthbertson also doesn’t foresee the same mad scramble to secure devices in the days before the law goes into effect.
“There are carriers in Canada that are not using them – they are using logging devices – and there will be a learning curve for them, just like there was here,” he adds, pointing out that many Canadian carriers are already using ELDs, including those carriers that bring freight across the border.