Canada has approved new regulations requiring that the number of hours truck drivers spend behind the wheel be tabulated electronically. According to Ottawa, the change, known as the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate, will reduce driver fatigue, make the country’s roads safer, and cut the amount of paperwork that trucking companies have to process. By 2020, all of the country’s truck drivers must adopt the new technology, which is already mandated for U.S. truck drivers and for Canadian truck drivers who drive on American roads.
Craig Drury, Eastern Canada VP of operations for equipment manufacturer Vermeer, told CED Magazine that the new regulations do not change the main problems that Canada’s trucking hours-of-service rules create for the country’s equipment makers. In an email, Drury explained that the current hours-of-service regulations “limit the time in a 24-hour period that one can drive AND be on duty” (all-caps added by Drury). As a result, Vermeer’s technicians who drive trucks and support the company’s customers can’t work for more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period, he stated.
According to Drury, if the technicians “leave home at six in the morning, arrive home at six at night and don’t take a legitimate lunch,” they can’t open their computers in the evening because doing so would be illegal.
Stating that the current hours of service regulations “are not in the spirit of running sales pick-up trucks and our service trucks,” Drury said he had been involved in discussions about looking to alter the regulations before Canada imposed the ELD mandate. The executive does, however, believe that there is “strong evidence” that the hours-of-service regulations prevent those who drive trucks for a living from becoming overly fatigued.
Meanwhile, “ten trade associations representing approximately 6,000 farm, industrial and outdoor power equipment dealers in North America” in September 2017 “requested a five-year renewable exemption” from America’s ELD mandate, according to a press release. The ELD rule “does not account for the unique circumstances equipment dealers and their customers face in agricultural production,” said Eric Wareham, VP of government affairs, Western Equipment Dealers Association, according to the press release.
Judging by the statements of Canadian officials, the ELD mandate and hours-of-service regulations do seem to be targeted primarily at professional truck drivers, raising questions about the appropriateness of applying them to employees of equipment makers and distributors. For example, Canadian Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said that the ELD mandate would make truck drivers less prone to fatigue” (emphasis added), while Stephen Laskowski, the president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents Canadian truckers, said that “electronic logging devices are going to ensure optimum compliance with hours-of-service regulation for truck drivers” (emphasis added). By using the term “truck drivers” instead of a phrase like “employees who drive trucks,” Garneau and Laskowski appear to be indicating that the ELD mandate is targeted primarily at those who drive trucks for a living.
It’s uncertain whether the efforts of equipment dealers and manufacturers to change Canadian hours-of-service rules and the ELD mandate will bear any fruit, but CED Magazine will keep you informed about new developments on this issue.