by Hal Mattern
Canada is joining the United States in requiring electronic logging devices on commercial motor vehicles, but the transition will be fairly painless for Canadian motorcoach operators.
That’s because more than half of the motorcoaches operating in Canada cross the border into the United States, and therefore already are equipped with ELDs to comply with a similar U.S. mandate that took effect in December 2017.
Doug Switzer, president and chief executive officer of Motor Coach Canada and the Ontario Motor Coach Association, called the mandate “kind of old news, as most Canadians go to the U.S. and have therefore already moved to ELDs. Once again the government is regulating something that the industry has already largely adopted.”
Under the new mandate, announced in June by Transport Canada, commercial trucks and buses will be required to replace paper logs with ELDs by June 2021 to track driver hours of service.
It is similar to the U.S. mandate, meaning Canadian operators will be able to use the same devices used in the U.S., but with software changes to ensure the ELDs meet Canada’s hours-of-service regulations.
“In doing this, we are looking to reduce truck and bus crashes due to fatigue,” Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a news conference announcing the mandate. “These devices will help to ensure that commercial drivers drive within their limit and accurately log their working hours.”
The one significant difference between the two countries’ ELD mandates is that Canada will require a more stringent certification process. ELDs sold in Canada will have to undergo third-party certification to ensure the devices comply with standards outlined in the mandate.
In the U.S., ELD suppliers are allowed to self-certify that their devices meet Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration standards. This led some operators to buy devices that didn’t include functions they thought they were getting, forcing them to buy additional software upgrades or, in some cases, to replace their ELDs at a significant cost.
Switzer said the Canadian certification process should eliminate the “buyer beware” aspect of the U.S. mandate.
He said Canada’s ELD mandate has taken longer to implement because transportation officials wanted to wait for details of the U.S. transition so they could make sure the two regulations were compatible.
Although Canadian officials have been discussing the mandate for a number of years, they never set a concrete date for requiring ELDs. But bus and motorcoach safety became a national issue last year after a fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.
Sixteen people died and 13 were injured after a bus taking the team to a playoff game collided with a semi-truck at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan, prompting a public outcry for more bus safety regulations.
The ELD mandate is the second major safety regulation announced by Transport Canada since the fatal crash. The government also announced it would make seatbelts mandatory on all new motorcoaches beginning in September 2020.
“It’s already a little late to start requiring ELDs, but it is still a positive step that they’ve moved forward on this,” Switzer said.