2017 — A Brand New Year!

Often at the end of one year and the beginning of another, I find myself looking at the year ahead to the year that is expected. What will happen in the year 2017 for the trucking industry? Much of it will affect truck drivers! The big one of course, is the USA ELD Mandate.

At the time that I am writing this article, it does look like the ELD law will come into effect in December, 2017 for most commercial trucking companies. Yes, there are still some legal challenges that are out there and threaten the start date. But from everything that I have read, it appears that the challenges will not succeed and that the mandate will go ahead as planned. So plan on December 2017 – at least this is my understanding at the time of this writing. There is not much that you the truck driver will be able to do about this new compliance rule. Love it or hate it, it looks like it will come into force in 2017.

Canada is also expected to join the ELD band wagon. It is believed that each province will issue ELD laws pertaining to them. These new laws will effectively cover intra and inter-provincial trucking drivers. In other words, it is likely that all drivers that currently complete paper logbooks will need to move to electronic logging devices. For the Canada only truck driver, this means that they will have about two more years before the Canadian version of any ELD mandate takes effect. The rules or proposed new laws should be published this year. In most cases in Canada, after the publication, it takes about two years to implement the new directive.

2017 will not just be about the ELD. For those who are not truck drivers yet, in Ontario there will be new legislation called MELT (Minimum Entry Level Training) for those people that want to obtain an AZ licence. In the USA a similar law takes effect called ELDT (Entry Level Driver Training). The ELDT rule is more comprehensive in that it covers training for tractor trailers, straight truck, and even school bus drivers. I hope that we here in Canada will follow suit. I believe that we need entry level training for all commercial drivers.

What else is happening for 2017? We have new Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol clearinghouse legislation. The clearinghouse will be an electronic database containing records of violations of drug and alcohol prohibitions in subpart B of part 382. Such violations will include positive drug or alcohol test results, refusals and other drug and alcohol violations for drivers who are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). When a driver completes the return-to-duty process, this information will also be recorded in the clearinghouse. And yes, Canadians must be included as well as Mexicans.

FSMA is coming! What is it? The Food Safety Modernization Act. The FSMA will significantly affect the trucking industry. This Act may cover food products including raw ingredients. The Government wants to know everything about who, when and how the food gets from the field to the table of consumers and how it was transported. Who was in control of the process and who carried the food? The focus of the new law is to build in prevention throughout the process. It is to protect us from food-borne illnesses such as Salmonella, E-coli or Listeria. This code was last updated in 1938. It is about time that we updated our processes so that we reduce the likelihood of illness.

And lastly, we will continue to see vehicles that incorporate new features, many of which are for safety. These functions may include adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance, new fuel types and self-driving trucks.

2017 looks very exciting but it will bring many changes for all drivers. I know that I sometimes have a difficult time adapting to change but we all need to learn to welcome it.

Have a safe day.

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.