October 28, 2016

The “black boxes” of trucking are coming … and so is a level playing field for truckers AND shippers

By John Tittel, Hot Freight International

After many years of study, discussion, consultation and more study, the federal government seems ready to implement electronic recording of truck driver activity.  Well, almost ready.

The government wants to align Canadian regulations with those of the U.S. which are not quite implemented.  Transport Canada wants Canadian compliance deadlines to be operationally feasible and to ideally mesh with the date the U.S. rules come into force.  The industry and government consensus is that we are looking at late 2017 for full implementation.

Under the new regulations that are coming in both countries drivers would be legally required to electronically record their hours on the road.  This is a major departure from the paper logs that have been used since the 1930’s.  Paper logs are based on the honour system and that has always been a problem in the trucking industry.  Truckers wanting to play by the rules with adherence to the hours of service regs in both the U.S. and Canada have long argued that compliance puts them at a disadvantage with competitors who practice “creative” paper logging of hours. 

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is on record saying that competition in trucking should be based on service and price with the caveat that price should include the significant cost of regulation compliance.  So, industry associations like the CTA are in favour of electronic logging because it will level the playing field and truckers will truly have to compete on service and price.  But electronic logging needs to be implemented in a fair and logical manner.

The cost of compliance for truckers will be the installation of Electronic On Board Recording (EOBR) in each of their tractors plus these systems will need to be tracked, reported and administered.  Theoretically, authorities will just download data from the EOBR at the roadside to determine where the truck has been, who was driving, what time the driver started, when he or she rested etc. etc. 


This will change things for some shippers who have become accustomed to delivery windows that take advantage of creative paper logging.  Service and price demands by shippers are thought to be at the root of hours of service infractions and electronic logging will go a long way to fixing the problem.  

Some rates are going to increase – the load that traditionally was delivered “just in time” by a single driver practicing creative logging, may now require a team.  Keeping a driver waiting for hours while paperwork is prepared and his or her truck is loaded will come with the cost of reducing hours available to legally move the freight down the highway. 

As with truckers, EOBR’s will level the playing field for all shippers.  No one in the supply chain will have any advantage at the expense of road safety.  That is good news.