What Differences Have ELDs Made to Road Safety and How Canada May Benefit from the Planned Mandate

Despite continued resistance from several groups, most notably the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the US Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate is officially in effect. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ushered in Phase Two of the four-year timeline set for ELD compliance, with full implementation, or Phase Three, beginning in December 2019. This target coincides with the projected Canadian implementation of a similar mandate. Landline Magazine reports that it was formally published as a draft in the Canadian Gazette on the same day the US regulation took effect last December. These rules are predicted to closely mirror that of the country’s southern neighbor to keep cross-border regulations smooth and consistent.

With the US having a head start on ELD implementation, this article explores the differences the long-awaited regulation has made thus far in the US trucking industry and road safety. It also tackles how Canada can potentially benefit from the upcoming mandate.

Promoting road safety and accountability

In a nutshell, the ELD mandate’s purpose is to standardize processes to prevent errors, reduce paperwork, avoid logbook tampering, and promote road safety among drivers and all others on the road. The mandate does not change Hours of Service (HoS) regulations—only the manner by which driving time is recorded and reported. Verizon Connect details that ELDs serve as a simple compliance solution for often-complex regulations aimed at keeping drivers safe and working respectable hours. By electronically tracking, logging, and updating information related to the entire trucking process, ELDs help drivers comply with safety regulations and fleet managements proactively monitor any potential issues.

Four months on, several groups report positive impact to business for those who have prepared in anticipation of the landmark ruling. Truck News suggests that despite the short time frame, truckers are already seeing major changes and disruptions to the industry. For starters, freight available is currently exceeding trucking capacity – with load boards and trucks full for the first time in a long while. Rates are heading northward of anywhere from 5% to 50%, with many carriers having already taken steps to raise driver pay rates to keep old drivers on board and attract new ones to the team.

As expected, the mandate is working to correct those in the industry who have been undercutting rates through non-compliance with HoS regulations. These practices promote driver exhaustion and fatigue, thereby potentially endangering their own drivers and other vehicles on the road.

Lessons for the Great White North

What the effects of the American ELD mandate tells us is that those who entered the full implementation phase prepared are coming out of it ahead. Stephen Laskowski, president of the Ontario Trucking Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance, predicts that Canada’s own ELD mandate will serve to improve safety and efficiency as well. He says, “The ELD mandate is the hope of many carriers in Canada — that this is the great cleansing of our industry, that the level playing field comes, that carriers now compete in a fair and compliant world where management practices and service, as opposed to finagling the regulations, is how one succeeds.”

As mentioned in a previous post here on the Safety Dawg blog, the ELD mandate has the potential to truly fix the trucking system after a period of adjustment come December 2019. It’s an opportunity for carriers to allow drivers to work in dignified conditions and have carriers thrive in doing the right thing. By making HoS automatically tracked and logged, the mandate – along with the carriers who embrace it – serves to make drivers better rested, while loads and roads are much safer as a result.

With the added benefit of seeing the ELD Mandate implementation play out in the US, Canadian carriers can potentially make the most out of this remaining time to check routes, ensure legal processes, research good ELD providers, and train staff all towards the goal of road safety. The ruling has the potential to be beneficial in the long-run, because as always emphasized by Safety Dawg, safety and safety insurance can make or break the future of your company.

Author: Jinn B. Alice

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