Canadian and Mexican truckers that operate in the U.S. will have to comply with a new federal mandate that requires them to use electronic logging devices that track the number of hours they spend behind the wheel.
Currently, truckers in Canada and Mexico are not required to run ELDs, which link to a semi truck’s engine to capture its movement and record driving time.
The devices will become mandatory on Dec. 18. They are meant to ensure that all truckers operating in the U.S. comply with a federal hours-of-service rule. The rule limits driving to no more than 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday. Drivers must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
The majority of large Canadian carriers that run in the U.S. have been proactively ELD-compliant for a number of years, said Margo Beghetto, spokesman for the Canadian Trucking Alliance. The CTA represents approximately 4,500 carriers that employee about 150,000 Canadian drivers.
“A number of the carriers here have already ironed out all of the bugs, training and operational issues to be ELD compliant,” Beghetto told Trucks.com. “We are an export-based country, and the U.S. is our largest market, so Canadian carriers figured out a long time ago that this rule is something they must follow.”
Transport Canada, the country’s transportation agency responsible for developing regulations and policies, is currently working on its own ELD rule, expected to be published soon. It will replace paper logs with ELDs. Beghetto said the ELD compliance deadline in Canada will likely be in December 2019.
“We would like to see Transport Canada expedite things a little bit,” he said.
“The bottom line is this – if you are an operator that doesn’t want ELDs and you want to stay with paper logbooks it’s because your entire business model is based on ‘massaging’ the margins of that paper logbook,” Beghetto said.
“The law is the law – the ELDs do not change the rules for hours of service. The rules are good, they are based on sound science and all ELDs do is ensure compliance with the rules we already have,” he said.
Smaller fleets and independent truckers in Canada may be having a harder time complying with the Dec. 18 deadline.
Questions remain about the lack of training from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure compliance with the U.S. rule, said Joanne Ritchie, executive director at the Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada, or OBAC.
There is also confusion about which device to purchase, Ritchie said.
Some carriers have concerns with the FMCSA’s handling of the ELD registry, which allows manufacturers to self-certify their devices.
“Once question on everybody’s mind is what happens when an ELD on FMCSA’s list of self-certified devices is found not to comply,” Ritchie told Trucks.com
If an ELD malfunctions, truck operators have only eight days to repair or replace the device or they risk being fined by a commercial vehicle inspector. In April, truckers will be ruled out-of-service and unable to drive if their ELD is not compliant.
“The last-minute scrambling to ‘take the plunge’ has left little transition time,” Ritchie said.
Mexican-based carriers are also preparing for the impending ELD mandate in the U.S. Mexico is currently working on its first hours-of-service rule for truckers.
In recent weeks, Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, along with CANACAR, a trade association representing individual carriers in Mexico, and Nelly Meraz of Meraz Consultores, a transportation consulting company, have conducted four training sessions with Mexican carriers along the border on ELD compliance.
“They are ready now, but it has been a long journey because of the lack of training from FMCSA and the misinformation from many service providers,” Meraz told Trucks.com.
ELD providers have confused some Mexican carriers about whether they will need to install a device if they qualify under FMCSA’s ‘short-haul exemption, Rajkovacz said.
The exemption states interstate carriers that drive within a 100 air-mile radius of their normal reporting location may be exempt from an ELD if they are completely off-duty within 12 consecutive hours, and follow the 10-hour off-duty and 11-hour driving requirements.
“Many of the companies have been incorrectly told they couldn’t use the exemption because they were Mexico-based,” Rajkovacz told Trucks.com. “In many cases the usability of this exemption reduced their compliance costs related to the mandate by 50 percent.”
Training material from FMCSA about the mandate has been sparse for Mexican carriers, Meraz said. She said the California Highway Patrol did provide some training information about a month prior to the deadline.
“It’s just a matter of buying and installing the devices, and training their staff,” Meraz said. “They already comply with hours of service regulations in the United States, nothing changed on that.”
The estimated cost to implement ELDs is approximately $2 billion. The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually by keeping tired truckers off the road. Switching to electronic logs also is expected to eliminate more than $1.6 billion in paperwork costs for motor carriers and law enforcement agencies reviewing drivers’ logs, according to the FMCSA.