OOIDA: 'No evidence' Canada's ELD mandate provides safety benefits

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 9/9/2016

A proposed mandate requiring electronic logging devices in Canadian commercial vehicles would unjustly burden small-business operators and provide no safety benefit to Canada’s motorists, according to comments filed on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The comment period for the proposed mandate lasts until Sept. 16. Johanne Couture, an OOIDA senior member from Brockville, Ont., filed comments on behalf of the Association.

“ELDs are touted by large carriers as a fleet management tool that allows for time savings predominately by eliminating the back office costs of reviewing drivers’ logs,” Couture said in her comments. “If ELDs do indeed improve efficiency and effectiveness, then the market will drive the adoption of these tools for all carriers, large and small. All motor carriers should be allowed to manage their operations in the manner which is most efficient for them, whether that be with an ELD or not.”

An owner-operator with 23 years of experience transporting freight throughout the U.S. and Canada, and more than 3 million safe miles, Couture also serves as a member of the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators’ compliance and review board.

Couture’s comments also stated that there is no evidentiary basis to support claims that ELDs improve safety. She also cited the results of Canada’s Roadcheck 2016, which found that the average out-of-service rate for Canadian drivers was less than 2 percent, of the more than 8,000 drivers inspected during the three-day enforcement campaign.

“With such a low HOS violation rate, there is little confusion concerning why Transport Canada is having a difficult time in justifying the burden of an ELD mandate. Quite simply, violations and crashes are a rare occurrence,” Couture wrote.

Earlier this summer, a study by the Canadian government’s top transportation agency says the nation’s proposal to mandate the use of electronic logging devices by federally regulated motor carriers and commercial drivers will help reduce crashes. But according to the research arm of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, this means an average of about two crashes a year.

On Aug. 3, Transport Canada announced it would be proposing an amendment on the country’s hours-of-service regulations, mandating the use of ELDs for all federally regulated bus and truck carriers and drivers who are required to maintain a logbook. As part of that release, the agency also announced it was seeking preliminary comments before the issuance of a proposed rule to be published in the Canada Gazette Part I, likely in early 2017. While an exact phase-in period and compliance dates have not been established, the cost-benefit analysis states that Transport Canada would try to align those dates with the U.S. ELD mandate of December 2017 “to the extent possible.”

In a cost-benefit analysis attempting to justify an ELD mandate, Transport Canada states that between 19 and 42 crashes per year occur in Canada where fatigue or falling asleep is a contributing factor, and claims that ELDs would reduce the rate of those crashes by about 10 percent.

OOIDA has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the U.S. mandate. Oral arguments in the case have been scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13. The Association is seeking a petition for review of the rule and procedures the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration followed in arriving at the rule. A successful review can result in all or part of a rule being overturned.

The review says that the average cost of an ELD is between $300 and $900 per unit, with an additional installation cost of $220 per device, plus a $15 activation fee. Monthly monitoring service fees were estimated at $30 per month.

“Forcing a small-business owner to adopt a fleet management tool which may be appropriate for some large fleets will not result in any increased efficiency,” Couture wrote. “None of these costs are necessary for a carrier which does not require an ELD. The costs of paper logbooks and a writing implement are negligible. A properly trained driver can record their duty status and keep track of their total on-duty hours without an ELD.”

Other purported benefits from a mandate include drivers saving roughly 4.5 minutes to 23 minutes per day by not having to maintain paper logbooks. The CBA also estimates that between 5 and 10 percent of drivers and carriers are exceeding allowable HOS limits.

In Canada, the federal government is responsible for limited operational matters for commercial bus and truck motor vehicles under the Motor Vehicle Transportation Act. HOS regulations are both federal and provincial. Provinces and territories are responsible for the enforcement of safety on Canadian roads, including the enforcement of federal HOS regulations.

The deadline to submit comments is Friday, Sept. 16. Comments, questions and requests for additional information regarding the matter should be directed to Andrew Spoerri at the agency’s headquarters at 330 Sparks Street, 9th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5 or via email to andrew.spoerri@tc.gc.ca.

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