Advocates of the commercial trucking industry in Alberta are pushing the federal government to make electronic logging devices (ELD) mandatory in Canada as soon as possible.
Since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, there has been a national spotlight on the Canadian trucking industry.
According to Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) president Chris Nash, the tragic crash was a motivation to implement more safety measures to avoid future crashes.
“This is a horrible incident that became a catalyst to move things forward… With the ELDs, it ensures we won’t have driver’s fatigue on the road so it just takes away that paper log audit and ability to beat the system,” Nash said.
A logbook review found the semi-driver responsible for the Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash, Jaskirat Singh Sidu, had broken a total of 70 regulations — 51 of which were federal violations. The review found Sidhu had incomplete log date and mileage inconsistencies.
According to Nash, ELDs are far superior to paper log books. As well, the devices are a more accurate way to clock both a driver’s driving time and rest time. Nash said paper log books can be easily altered or falsified.
“Like anything else, if you have paper, you have the ability to be a creative writer… [ELDs are] going to be safer for the industry,” he said.
However, some truck drivers Global News spoke to disagree with that notion and say it’s actually more dangerous.
Truck driver Sean Boyd, who logged his driving electronically for the past two years, said the looming deadline to get to their destination gives them little leeway.
“The danger on the road has intensified greatly,” he said. “I say it’s predominantly racing against the clock.
“If you’re not in one of these truck stops by four or five o’clock, you’re out of luck. You’re going to park on the side street because they fill up that fast.”
Drivers in Canada are legally allowed to drive 13 hours per day. According to Boyd, there were many instances where he was forced to shut down in problematic locations as he reached his allotted driving time.
“I run back and forth from Ontario to B.C. and as we all know, northern Ontario, [there’s] not a lot of truck stops,” he said. “I found myself in the middle of nowhere in a rest area with no bathroom, no amenities because that’s the way the e-log is run out for the day. You’re forced to shut down in places you don’t want to.”
At Bison Transport, its entire fleet has been outfitted with the new technology for the past seven years. While there are challenges, chief operating officer Trevor Fridfinnson said the training and implementation cost is worth it to ensure they comply with regulations.
“Like any new product introduction, there can be trepidation at the outset… but if you train and introduce it properly and for the right reasons, it’s well received and it works,” Fridfinnson said.
In addition to saving drivers’ times, Fridfinnson believes the devices provide more transparency for its stakeholders.
“The electronic log is not a piece of paper in one individual’s hand,” he said. “It’s information that’s shared with the company so we can monitor and manage hours of service. We know how much time someone is driving and working. As well, we can demonstrate that to authorities on inspection.
“There is a small buffer allowance to account for, say a weather delay… The electronic logging device is not going to force someone to be in an unsafe or untenable position.”
According to the province, it is waiting for federal details to be flushed out.
“The province is waiting for the federal technical standards and regulations to be finalized and will consult with industry stakeholders on the provincial framework, including the mandatory use of ELDs for provincially regulated carriers,” read a statement by the transport ministry on Wednesday. “Alberta Transportation aims to lead consultations on the matter during 2019.”
According to AMTA, it’s working with multiple trucking agencies across Canada, including the Canadian Trucking Alliance, to have the regulations in place by fall.
“We’re advocating to have electronic log books in by third-quarter by 2019 or early 2020,” Nash said.
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