Electronic Logging Devices: What’s the Big Deal?


We all know someone whose fish gets bigger with every story told. It might be the Uncle on your Mom’s side – the one with the inappropriate jokes. Maybe it’s your Dad’s best friend - the guy who once tried to ride a pump jack for fun. He didn’t make it past the lease road – but when he tells it; he’s Rambo on a super jet!

Sometimes; we all need a crazy story here and there to get us through the month. One place it ends up biting us in the behind though; is Hours of Service Driver’s Logs.

If you’re a Trucker; or you operate a Trucking Business, you know that this career is not for the faint of heart. It takes heart and dedication to operate a machine the size of Goliath. For some; it means days and weeks away from family, rough traffic conditions, inclement weather, road bans, etc. In some cases; if a Driver is not careful enough, he/she might end up working the day for free.

Indeed, this is one Industry you don’t want the fine detail coming back to bite you. But Canada’s new safety law to implement Electronic Logging Devices by June 2021 could be just what is needed to make this job a little easier.


Over the last few years Electronic Logging Devices (“ELD’s”) have grown in popularity and there is a vast array on the market, from ELD’s that are connected to the vehicle’s engine, to mobile apps you carry with you on the go.


Here are four reasons why the switch to ELD’s is a positive change for Canadian drivers and Carriers:


Minimizing Fatigue Violations


As a Carrier, we all know the difficulty of trying to fit 29 hours into a 24-hour day. Naturally, we want drivers to be as productive as possible within their Hours of Service daily limits and work shift limits; but we also want to avoid risking public safety by pushing driver’s limits too far.


As a Carrier, it is your responsibility to know your driver’s available hours. If a driver doesn’t have time to do the job; or they are completely out of hours; you must not dispatch them. Additionally, consideration must also be given for influencing factors such as; any period of time your driver is on site awaiting further instruction from the Client; travel time to and from overnight accommodation and specific designated rest locations only permitted for certain types of freight.


If you’re an Owner Operator; or a two-man show, this is much easier to keep track of. But if you’re a Carrier with several moving parts; and lots of bodies to coordinate; this can prove to be extremely challenging, even for the most skilled Operations Manager.


Unfortunately, this basic rule of thumb – not dispatching drivers with insufficient hours - can sometimes get lost in translation. Often, dispatchers get extremely busy and drivers are dispatched after very little time off. While this is likely a genuine oversight due to not having information required to make quick decisions, it can nevertheless cause a diligent Carrier endless headaches in fines and drivers being put out of service.


Conversely, Drivers are wary of refusing assigned work because of the backlash they might face. The reality is that drivers should not be accepting shifts if their hours are going to be exceeded; but many drivers also have spouses and children who depend on them. Although they can legally refuse the shift – they choose to take the risk anyways.


In this scenario both the driver and the Carrier are putting people’s lives at risk because they are placing someone on the road that is fatigued.


An ELD system assists this issue by making the drivers hours of service record readily available.


It helps both the Carrier and the driver keep regulatory compliance with the National Safety Code by putting the information that is needed at the fingertips of those who need it. Information recorded includes time spent driving, rest breaks, time on duty not driving, driver’s route, vehicle inspection reports and a wide array of other information.


With a quick hit of some buttons, dispatch can see which of their drivers have the proper amount of hours to take the available shift. And… it’s working. The United States has made this law and studies show that Trucks with an ELD system have lower Hours of Service violations.


Improved Driver Safety


As a National Safety Code Auditor, I have spent hours poring over Drivers Logs and something I analyze is whether the total mileage correlates to the number of hours driven. If someone indicates they drove 450 km in 3 hours, this is either a calculation error…or the driver was speeding.


ELD’s connected to the engine track speed, distance travelled and other behaviours such as hard braking, harsh maneuvers, idling and fuel economy; allowing you to track driving trends and actively encourage good driving behaviours.


Even ELD’s which are app based are accompanied by a desktop dashboard, allowing you a quick glance in real time at the total KM driven as compared to number of hours of driving.


Furthermore, we all know someone whose handwriting gets a little sloppy. When you’re on the road, your focus is taken in a million different directions and as the day wears on, printing can get less and less legible. With ELD’s, you no longer have to spend hours deciphering Joe Blow’s chicken scratch.


No more tracking down paperwork….or lost paperwork


It’s a certain kind of person who loves paperwork; if you’re one of the many who try to avoid it at all costs; you are not alone. But, if you’ve been around a while, you know that the Transportation Industry is becoming more and more paperwork based.


If you are tasked with the job of Fleet paperwork, I am sure one of the favourite parts of your week is tracking down paperwork.


The Commercial Vehicle Safety Regulation requires that documentation such as Driver Logs and DVIR’s must be submitted to the Carrier within 20 days; but if you have drivers who are on the road for weeks at a time; staying on top of ensuring that paperwork is handed in when it’s required is a full time job.


With ELD’s, you no longer need to wait for paperwork, or spend precious time chasing drivers. With a Dashboard profiling your entire fleet as well as all of your drivers; you can access (and print) this information right from your desktop; leaving you time to spend on other aspects of your Business.


Better Vehicle Maintenance


Many Carriers put in place faster turnaround times than 20 days when it comes to submitting Logs and DVIR’s, even so; the hope is that communication is such that drivers still notify the office immediately when a vehicle defect is identified.


However; information sometimes gets lost (or forgotten) in translation and you might not become aware of defects until days or weeks later. With ELD’s, because you have at-your-fingertips information, you can see defects being recorded as your driver is completing their DVIR. This allows you to take quick action on defects, which not only ensures your vehicles are safer, but also minimizes potential “Out of Services”.


Some ELD’s even offer the functionality of triggering an alert directly to your Shop whenever a defect is identified.


Worth Mentioning


In addition to the above, there are many other advantages to using ELD’s, depending on the requirements of your Business. Some worth noting though are; better tracking and analysis of Fuel Efficiency, ease of accessing information for IFTA filing, detailed Vehicle Diagnostic Reporting and a substantial decrease in Form and Manner violations.


Opinion on whether ELD’s should be the future is divided; with old-schoolers still preferring paper alternatives; however whatever the size of your Operation, ELD systems offer many advantages and shouldn’t be overlooked. The Industry continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down; therefore anything that allows you to optimize your time and keep you competitive as a Carrier can only be positive.



Kyle May is a Transportation Consultant and a Third Party Auditor for Transportation Alberta Carrier Services. He works with Federal and Provincial Carriers all over Western Canada, helping them to achieve and maintain National Safety Code compliance.

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