Canada is making electronic logging devices mandatory for federally regulated commercial truck and bus drivers in an effort to combat driver fatigue and improve road safety.
Electronic devices track when and how long drivers have been behind the wheel. They are tamper resistant and integrated into commercial vehicle engines, and are designed to ensure long-haul drivers stick to their daily driving limit and log their hours accurately.
During a news conference in suburban Toronto, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the new requirement will come into force on June 12, 2021, replacing paper-based daily logbooks to ensure drivers comply with federal regulations.
Under those rules, a driver cannot drive after accumulating 13 hours on the road in a day. The driver must take at least eight consecutive hours of off-duty time before driving again.
“In doing this, we are looking to reduce truck and bus crashes due to fatigue,” Garneau said. “These devices will help to ensure that commercial drivers drive within their limit and accurately log their working hours.”
The devices will have third-party certification. Asked if some companies deliberately fudge the books, Garneau said there have been “inaccuracies” in the past — some of them deliberate and others not deliberate.
Level the playing field
New rules will ensure a level playing field for competitors, he said.
Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said the announcement will ensure there will be no gaps or opportunities for people to manipulate hours of service monitoring technology so that compliance is the only option.
“Third-party certified electronic logging devices will ensure that everyone follows the same rules,” he said. “And if we all follow the rules, the highways will be safer.”
Garneau said the use of electronic devices will cut the administrative red tape of having to keep daily paper logs and verify compliance through enforcement officers.
The new rules align with U.S. road safety regulations. Harmonization of rules “will support economic growth, trade, and transportation on both sides of the border,” according to a Transport Canada release.
The new measure also addresses a Saskatchewan coroner’s recommendation stemming from the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team last year.
Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured after a bus taking the Broncos to a playoff game collided with a transport truck at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan on April 6, 2018.
The Calgary-based transport truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving causing death or bodily harm.
The federal government only has authority over truck and bus carriers that carry goods or passengers across a provincial or international boundary.
Garneau said he hopes the provinces and territories will adopt similar requirements.