Mississauga, ON — Canada’s long-awaited electronic logging device (ELD) mandate should differ from the U.S. rule to avoid some of the pitfalls that befell the rollout of similar legislation there.
That was the opinion of a panel that discussed the issue at the Surface Transportation Summit Oct. 10. Steven Laskowski, head of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), pointed out one deficiency in the U.S. rules – the fact vendors can self-certify their own devices.
Some ELDs on the market produce logs that can be easily modified.
“What we have seen and found is the ability for people to rewrite their hours-of-service,” Laskowski said. “With (some of) these devices it’s a push of a button.”
He said the Canadian industry is lobbying for third-party certification of devices to prevent this problem, but he noted the vast majority of suppliers do meet the technical requirements.
Canada’s ELD regulation has been held up by bureaucratic red tape. Unlike in the U.S., where the federal government mandates interstate carriers, in Canada all provinces must handle enforcement.
“You’re not dealing at the table one-on-one with the feds, you’re dealing with seven, 10 other jurisdictions,” Laskowski said. “There was political foot-dragging on this.”
Mark Seymour, chairman of Kriska Group, shared his company’s experience when rolling out ELDs voluntarily between 2011 and 2014.
“We took three years,” he said. “We wanted to do it at the right pace that didn’t disrupt the business, didn’t disrupt the people, and there were things we did to try not to choke the system.”
Seymour is a fan of the technology.
“The old paper-based log system is ludicrous,” he said. “And for those we’ll be introducing to our business in years to come, to teach them a system like that would frankly likely be enough to turn people away from our industry.”
He encouraged carriers that haven’t yet made the transition to give themselves ample time and to implement them methodically.
“To wait and rush is just a recipe for disaster,” he said.
Because Kriska was an early adopter, it lost some drivers who resisted the change.
“We had some contraction of the fleet size through that period of time, with individuals who had the opportunity to go work somewhere else under the old paper-based system,” Seymour admitted. “In many cases, when the (U.S.) mandate hit, places they went to weren’t ready, were disorganized, and in many cases they came back.”
Kriska offered drivers who volunteered to switch to e-logs pay increases. Seymour also admitted there were some operational changes required when the company converted to electronic logs. The company educated its shippers on the implications of ELDs and pushed harder against shippers to allow drivers to park at their facilities.
“Operationally, we said let the driver sleep in your yard for morning appointments or they get there when they get there,” he said. “Our drivers need a safe, convenient place to sleep and the best place to do that is in your yard if you want t hem there at eight in the morning. Operationally there had to be lots of consideration given to the rules by which the drivers then had to operate within in a very rigid manner.”
Barry Somerville, safety project manager at FedEx Ground, was also an early adopter of ELDs. The biggest mistake FedEx made, said Somerville, was allowing contractors to choose from a list of approved devices. That caused inconsistencies the company is still trying to clean up by moving to a single vendor. It also presented complications when drivers switched trucks and had to familiarized themselves with another platform.
However, he said the benefits of moving to e-logs were undeniable.
“We were manually collecting logbooks and we would manually key it into the transportation management system,” he said. “It’s archaic.”
Moving to e-logs also puts more pressure on shippers to do their part to make good use of a driver’s time, Seymour said.
“It’s the appreciation and respect of the number of hours per day that a truck driver has to work and frankly, to make a living,” he said. “It imposes upon the shipper and receiver the impact they have on that workday on things like dwell time, things like allowing drivers to sleep in the yard. Maybe providing that option of switching trailers as opposed to live unload. What piece of that day do you own and what can you do to improve upon your ownership of that piece?”