On the day that I’m writing this article, there is one, yes – only one, approved ELD supplier in Canada. Perhaps by the time you are reading this magazine, there will be more. The law requiring ELDs has been in place for Federally regulated trucks since June 12, 2021. On that date, there were NO Transport Canada approved ELDs. For several weeks, there was no possible way a company could be legal. Thank goodness that the Canadian provinces decided not to enforce the law as it is written. Yeah – hooray for common sense!
Why do we need ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) in Canada? Or perhaps a better question is: Do we need ELDs?
I am all for Electronic Logging Devices. I’m sure that many of you don’t agree with that stance. Still, I believe that while causing an inconvenience to truck drivers and their families, that they do make the roads safer. Driving any vehicle is a privilege and being a truck driver is an honour and a privilege. Yes, I’m proud of my background as a professional truck driver and that a long time ago, my family owned a trucking company. My roots are in trucking and the transportation industry has allowed me to provide for my family. So yes, I’m proud of my trucking heritage.
But some truck drivers (the word professional is missing in this description) were abusing the paper log system and being unsafe. A small percentage gave into pressure. It may have been the dispatcher telling the driver, “See what you can do.” Or a friend or family member asking that you get home as soon as possible. It is pressure and some of the drivers, with that little bit of “encouragement,” would push on driving even when tired. This caused problems and these issues caused the government to act. Like most laws or new regulations, it came into place because of the actions of a few. Most of us don’t speed but we have speed laws. Most of us don’t hold a cellphone to our ear when we drive but some do, so we now have a handheld device law. Most of us do the right thing without the “encouragement” of government. Like most laws, the ELD law comes into place to make those that aren’t following the rules act more safely.
Are there any benefits to having an ELD? I believe that there are several paybacks for the driver to have an ELD system in their truck. I’m a safety guy and I’m looking at the benefits with my safety manager glasses on. I don’t foresee very many “logbook not current” tickets in the future. Yup, that ticket is almost gone. Because an ELD starts tracking when there is truck movement over 8 KM/hr, truck drivers no longer “forget” to create their paper log. It is done for you.
I also don’t foresee the falsification violations as frequently as I did in the past. I do think that many of the falsification violations were because the driver made a mistake.
Another advantage of the ELD is that dispatchers and shippers don’t ask you to make up time for their mess-ups. You know how it works; you are sitting in the dock, waiting to get loaded for five hours and then the shipper suggests that you just say: “it is sleeper-berth time.” How I hated it when they expected me to make up for their inefficiencies.
I know that change is hard. I know that for many of you, the ELD reduces your flexibility. The fact is that with paper logs, you could be more creative and get more things done. I know that when I drove full-time, I made a few bad choices and moved when I should not have. I think most drivers have done the same. But I believe that ELDs make us adhere to the Hours-of-Service rules which I think, in the long run, is safer for all of us. I, like many, don’t like being told what to do, but in the case of ELDs, I agree that we need them.
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.