Canada’s mandate for commercial vehicles to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) took effect on Saturday. But it’s missing two key pieces: meaningful enforcement and a list of approved ELDs certified for use in the country.
The result is a peculiar set of circumstances. Any commercial trucks regulated by the federal government, including those from the U.S., technically aren’t abiding by the mandate, but they can’t. But it’s a moot point since penalties for noncompliance won’t begin until June 2022.
While the federal government and provincial regulators previously announced that enforcement of the mandate will come gradually, it’s not clear why there are no devices certified to operate in Canada yet. But when they are certified, Transport Canada will post them online.
The ELD certification process represents the most significant differentiator between Canadian and U.S. regulations (but not the only one). Canada is requiring all ELDs to undergo a vetting process performed by an outside company, FPInnovations. In the U.S., manufacturers certify their own devices.
The process likely will narrow the number of ELDs that can be used in Canada. But proponents of the certification say it will reduce instances of electronic-log tampering.
ELDs are already in widespread use among Canadian carriers and owner-operators under the existing U.S. mandate. But whether those devices are allowed to be used in Canada will depend on manufacturers’ willingness to apply for the certification and the outcome of the process. The same goes for U.S. carriers and owner-operators who run to Canada.
The U.S. mandate also was phased in gradually beginning in 2017. Full enforcement didn’t occur until 2019, when trucks were required to replace the older automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) with ELDs.
How’d we get here?
Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced the soft rollout in March. He didn’t provide a clear reason for it, but spoke to the challenges facing the industry during the pandemic.
“This will give sufficient time for the industry to obtain and install certified electronic logging devices without penalty as of June 12, 2021,” Sau Sau Liu, a spokesperson for Alghabra’s ministry, Transport Canada, which is overseeing the rollout, told FreightWaves in an email at the time.
The Canadian Council for Motor Transport Administrators, a multijurisdictional body that helps coordinate transportation regulations, added further clarity in May. It announced that all of the entities across Canada’s provinces and territories agreed that the enforcement of the ELD mandate — with penalty — would begin in June 2022.
Until then, enforcement will consist of “education and awareness.”
In short, it gives stakeholders a yearlong grace period to get their act together concerning ELDs. The trouble is that thousands of carriers and owner-operators probably didn’t need it.
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