In December 2017, Transport Canada rolled out a strategy they anticipate will save lives and support economic growth. The new regulations include mandatory installation of electronic stability control technology and will ensure that all commercial drivers are using electronic logging devices to keep track of their hours spent on the road.
In efforts to harmonize Canadian and U.S. regulations, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau advocated for this positive new change in commercial vehicles. “We’re constantly looking at how technology can improve road safety, and electronic stability control and electronic logging devices fit the bill,” said Minister Garneau. “These new measures not only make trucks and buses safer, but they also have a trickle-down effect of making the roads safer for all Canadians.”
Electronic logging devices, or ELDs, are replacing time-consuming paper logging systems. Both Canadian and U.S. transport regulators are working to ensure safer driving practices by developing regulations that are largely like those of their neighbor. With the newest addition to Canada’s transportation regulations, both countries now require drivers to provide accurate, tamper-proof driving logs and will be required to phase out machines currently in use that do not meet new machine standards.
“For a number of years, the Canadian Trucking Alliance has been pointing to research that shows a universal electronic logging device mandate would have a direct and immediate impact on curbing behaviors strongly linked with higher crash rates, such as driving over prescribed limits of service, which leads to fatigue,” said Minister Garneau.
While there are clearly recognized benefits to ELDs, their implementation is not without concern. The costs associated with the installation of an ELD are not insignificant, whether you have a fleet or are a small business owner with a single commercial vehicle. The counterargument to cost is that this will be offset by reduced paperwork hours, but that remains to be seen.
The impact on productivity has also been cited as a concern, but as with the aviation sector, Transport Canada sees the implementation of ELDs as an important tool to fight driver fatigue and reduce carnage on the roads. The government has determined that potential reduced productivity, increased labor costs to industry, personnel shortages and other challenges to the heavy equipment and trucking sectors are acceptable costs, although when the case has been made soundly, exceptions to the regulations have been granted.
“AED is supportive of the measures Transport Canada has taken to bring ELDs to our industry and in a manner that seems to harmonize their use across the Canada–U.S. border,” said Brian McGuire, AED president and CEO. “We will continue to monitor the roll-out and voice our concerns where any discrepancies or problems appear.”
As part of Transport Canada’s newest strategy, ELDs currently in use will be permitted until 2022, and all devices must meet new National Safety Code technical standards by 2020.
The Transport Minister also announced new regulations requiring commercial trucks and buses to adopt electronic stability control (ESC) technology. These stability control systems are now required in new trucks, school buses and intercity buses. This new technology offers even more control to drivers in preventing collisions and rollovers and in improving directional stability; they will be required in vehicles by June 2018.
First studied in 2004 by Transport Canada, ESC technology has been mandatory in passenger vehicles since 2011, and the expansion of the ESC systems to commercial trucks and school buses is a natural extension that further increases road safety.
“The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada and its members are extremely pleased about this announcement. Our membership has been involved in the consultations with the department and we are firm believers that this regulation will benefit the entire industry. Electronic logs will make compliance easier to verify, ensuring all carriers are following the hours of service rules. This will result in a leveling of the playing field within the industry and improved road safety for all.”