Electronic tracking in trucks welcomed

B.C. Trucking Association says it will make roads safer and benefit truckers.

Use of use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial vehicles and electronic stability control (ESC) in new trucks will be positive steps for the trucking industry that will improve safety for all road users

The BC Trucking Association (BCTA) is applauding Thursday’s announcement by federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, which is mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial vehicles and electronic stability control (ESC) in new trucks.

ELDs in particular will ensure driving time is accurately recorded, removing the temptation for some individuals or companies to work outside the rules and increase their crash risk, says the Langley-based BCTA.

BCTA, in company with its national counterpart, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, and other provincial trucking associations, has been asking for both standards for years, given that they will have multiple benefits for everyone from day-to-day road users to governments at different levels.

“We’re very pleased with Transport Canada’s decision about ELDs,” says Louise Yako, BCTA’s President and CEO. “BCTA supports an ELD mandate as the single most important opportunity to transform the trucking industry to ensure companies and drivers are paid for all their work, including waiting time. ELDs replace paper logbooks, so truck drivers using the technology will no longer need to fill these in manually. ELDs also provide convenient, reliable records to support compliance with rest breaks and on-duty driving time. And that means enhanced road safety – always a top priority for BCTA.”

Professional long-haul truck drivers are required to record specifics about their work shifts in a logbook, including time during the shift spent driving or doing other work, rest breaks, and off-duty time. Trucking companies are in turn expected to check driver logs. Introducing an electronic process makes record-keeping less onerous and removes the possibility of falsifying records to squeeze in more work than is wise or safe, leveling the playing field for all. Shippers who may pressure some trucking companies to operate beyond hours will also be held to account with these devices.

“Most trucking companies comply with hours of service regulations because that’s just good business,” said Yako. “ELDs are one way to help reduce driver fatigue, which is often cited as a crash causation factor. A heavy truck crash is not only emotionally and physically distressing, it causes property damage, involves emergency and road maintenance crews, creates a loss of reputation for the company, and affects other road users. ELDs can be an important tool for preventing and reducing these outcomes.”

Requiring manufacturers to comply with a standard for ESC is also good news, Yako said. ESC improves the safety of trucks by automatically applying brakes when a loss of traction is detected, a feature some Canadian truck manufacturers already offer.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the United States has also announced it will be publishing a final rule requiring ELDs in September 2015 that will give the trucking industry two years to research, install and become familiar with the technology before the rule is enforced. Canadian companies that haul goods across the border will be required to comply, although many Canadian and American companies have already incorporated ELDs in their fleets. The U.S. has an existing ESC standard for new trucks as well.

ELD technology, which may be part of a complex fleet management system or a simpler standalone device monitoring one truck, supersedes previous devices called “electronic on-board recorders” or EOBRs.

“Our next step as an industry representative is to work with government on enforcement and transition rules for ELDs to ensure this is done in a thoughtful and practical manner,” says Yako.

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