Vehicle collisions as a result of driver fatigue, are something that is still a regular occurrence on Canadian roadways.
In commercial transportation, delivery schedules and cost per km are economic realities, however, trying to maximize driver endurance does have unintended consequences and commercial vehicle accidents can not only result in multiple injuries and fatalities but the overall economic impact as a result of these collisions is both highly disruptive and costly.
In fact, with Transport Canada projecting an increase of 50,000 more commercial vehicles in use by 2028 and with 25% of commercial driver convictions being a direct result of running over the Hours of Service (HOS) limits, it’s clear to see those fatigue-induced accidents are a serious and growing problem.
To help negate the issue of driver fatigue, as well as ensure a level playing field for commercial operators as well as increase efficiency in the sector, the Government of Canada has been working on an initiative since 2019 to mandate the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in commercial vehicles.
The mandatory ruling is set to come into force on June 12, 2021, and in March, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra said, “I am firmly committed to this timeline—these devices will further strengthen road safety in Canada. At the same time, the impact of COVID-19 on commercial vehicle operations has been unprecedented and must be acknowledged.”
Prior to the mandatory usage dates, installation of ELDs has been a coordinated effort between the federal government, the provinces and territories, using a progressive strategy of informing and educating regarding the use of ELDs, as well as successful implementation practices.
ELDs are certified technology devices that automatically track and log both a driver’s driving time and record of duty. Additionally, ELDs also gather data on individual vehicle movement, engine operation, ignition status and distance driven. The ELD works by integrating with the vehicle’s engine ECU to record this information which is then pushed out to servers where Duty Service logs are created. These logs can then be pushed out to an ELD mobile app and are constantly updated.
The ELD is also integrated with fleet management software to allow managers and operators to actively track driver and vehicle performance and ensure compliance via these ELD reports.
Differences between Canada and the U.S.
Although both the U.S. and Canada have ELD mandates, and many of the elements are the same, there are differences. In the U.S., ELDs have been mandated since 2017 and the Canadian ELD mandate incorporates some lessons learned from the U.S. initiative.
Some key differences in Canada are:
- Rental trucks are exempt if used for 30 days or less
- Drivers who incorrectly ‘pick up’ unassigned driving can put it back if they assigned it incorrectly and have a different driver pick it up
- Personal Use option must be disabled if the driver has covered more than 75 km per day
- ELD must warn drivers when they are running out of work time (supporting full Canadian HOS rules)
- Roadside Transfer sends a data package to the email address typed in by the driver
- ELDs in Canada will be accredited by a third party (not self-certified)
Therefore, it’s important for Canadian fleets that the ELDs they are using incorporate these requirements.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the significance of commercial transportation in the overall economy has taken on new importance and the introduction of mandatory ELDs in Canada is seen as a positive step to further improve driver safety and wellbeing, bolster fleet operational efficiency as well as ensuring safer roadways for all motorists.
In summing up the Government of Canada’s recent press statement, Omar Alghabra said, “truckers and other commercial operators deserve our thanks and appreciation for delivering essential services to Canadians—without them, we can’t beat this pandemic.”
Alghabra also added that “I also wish to acknowledge the valuable input provided by our industry stakeholders on electronic logging devices. Moving forward, we will continue working together to bring this important road safety technology to Canada.”