E-day is Here: The June 2021 ELD Mandate Marks a New Era for Hours of Service Safety
By Stephen Laskowski
The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate for federally regulated trucking companies has arrived and comes into force June 12. The mandate will begin with educational enforcement in each province. When the ELD mandate was finalized in 2019, the Canadian Trucking Alliance wanted to see full enforcement of the third-party certification mandate by June of 2021. But the realities and challenges of 2020 have impacted the readiness of government, ELD vendors and, by extension, the carrier community. This means that educational enforcement had to be a part of the roll-out – something the CTA Board members wanted to avoid.
However, CTA will not stop putting pressure on governments to escalate their education and awareness efforts into eventual enforcement actions over the next 12 months. As time passes between June of 2021 and June of 2022, and availability and ability to activate third-party certified ELDs into the Canadian market evolves, expect CTA to continue to call on all provincial governments to advance their enforcement regime more progressively and aggressively to reflect the volume of devices coming online and the ability of federally regulated carriers to comply with the rule. So, what’s next in the short term?
To start, over the next 12 months, we must first address what is real and what is not when it comes to complying with the ELD regulation – and we must separate the legitimate issues facing the industry in the transition from excuses people come up with because they don’t actually want to follow the rules and install ELDs. What am I referring to? Some in our industry will see the start of the education and awareness as a signal to kick the can down the road and do nothing for another year while continuing to use this period as a crutch to avoid compliance, while most of the industry are making legitimate efforts to comply and want to turn the page to a new, safer chapter on hours-of-service fulfilment. Perhaps there are also some companies and drivers that have misguided hopes that real enforcement will never begin. This would be a serious error in judgement and to prolong the status quo is irresponsible on their part or anyone in the supply chain that promotes and supports non-compliance. The silver lining of a time-limited focused educational and awareness campaign is that at some point, it will come to an end. The excuses some in our industry like to use on a regular basis – “I was not aware of the rule”; “no one told me”; “that rule doesn’t apply to me”; “that’s only required in the US”; “my ELD is certified for the US so it is good for Canada” – will not be valid come June 2022. Ignorance is no excuse for not following the law – and there will be little sympathy for those who ignore such an important safety law that has been in the making and well publicized for over a decade.
The educational awareness campaign which rolls out this June, followed by progressive enforcement, introduced properly and consistently, will serve the real purpose of removing any more places for the excuse-makers to hide as we get closer to June 2022. It also starts the regulatory clock – something that a delay in the coming-into-force date would not have achieved.
The next step for CTA is to make all levels of government and industry aware when ELDs have been certified and the process for having existing devices updated with the compliant software. Several ELD vendors are currently going through the certification process. Once these vendors have been certified, they will be published on Transport Canada’s website and CTA will be promoting and sharing such information. In the meantime, there is nothing stopping a carrier from doing their due diligence with ELD vendors in advance of certification. CTA Team Canada Elite-member ELD suppliers hold a very large share of ELD marketplace. Reach out to them, as they can explain their product, compliance options and installation steps. Carriers without ELDs can have their due diligence completed in advance of the devices hitting the market, leaving payment and installation as the final step. In short, carriers that insist they were not aware of the rule; or didn’t have enough time to buy and install – which has been part of the reasoning for the educational/progressive enforcement phase – will not be reflective of the reality in 2022.
It is also important to remember that over 70 percent of the long-haul trucks in Canada are ELD capable right now. True, these devices need to be updated with new software, but these updates are expected to be completed seamlessly, over-the-air. The vast majority of federally regulated trucking carriers and trucks will become ELD compliant with certified devices in very short order. This soon to be evolving certainty will be of significant focus for discussion between CTA and enforcement officials with regards to the pace at which educational and awareness can legitimately transform to enforcement.
In short, CTA’s message to the industry on ELDs is threefold. (1) For those carriers already operating ELDs who wanted full enforcement of the law beginning in 2021: We hear you and empathize with your frustration that non-compliance is too often a business operating model for those at the bottom of our industry. Third-party certified devices are now set to become a reality for everyone by June 2022 and this will help improve operational practices and the safety and accountability of the supply chain; (2) For those who want to be compliant but are just waiting for devices to be certified and need some time to educate themselves and address adoption and installation: We understand your legitimate operational challenges but the need to prioritize this compliance shift must remain a focused effort on everyone’s part. CTA will lobby for appropriate time to be given over the next 12 months for carriers in legitimate transition processes, but expect a shift in CTA’s messaging on leniency as third-party ELD devices and the ability to activate them saturate the marketplace as we move closer to June 2022; (3) For those carriers and supply chain members who never want to see the emergence of third-party certified ELDs – the same folks who practice or support Driver Inc., deleted diesel emission controls, and misrepresent information for insurance purposes – I’ll say this once again: The legitimate members of the trucking industry will not stop our public calls and efforts to government and the supply chain to rid the trucking industry of this behaviour.
Compliance is not an option. Hours of service rules must be followed; they promote highway safety, driver health and wellness and fair competition. By June 2022, federally regulated carriers who built their business model on servicing customers through circumventing hours of service will face a new world – one which their noncompliance will be brought to light and the industry can finally move to a true level playing field built on accountability and compliance for everyone who makes up the supply chain, including drivers, carriers, 3PLs and our customers. The ELD compliance clock has now started to count down to June 2022; it can’t come fast enough for the betterment of highway safety and for the operating conditions of compliant carriers.