Friday, August 12, 2016

Canada has lost its mind trying to justify ELDs

Editor’s note: OOIDA Senior Member Johanne Couture has more than 20 years’ experience as a truck driver pulling freight throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to her service as a member of OOIDA’s board, she’s also a member of the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators’ compliance and review board.

I am truly baffled by Canada’s latest attempt to convince people that we need an electronic log mandate. The cost-benefit analysis, the study that supposedly shows the benefits outweigh the costs, is nothing more than a smoke screen.

The cost-benefit analysis for Canada’s national ELD mandate claims the mandated use of the devices will prevent two crashes annually. That’s two crashes, not necessarily two fatalities and not necessarily even injuries. Just crashes.

So here we have a financially burdensome mandate, intruding on the privacy of all mandated drivers nationally, that will potentially prevent only TWO crashes annually?

Two crashes annually. Think about that.

Two crashes on a national level could be prevented by rolling out the salt trucks five minutes earlier when the weather turns bad. Or, the new Ontario MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) program could prevent at least that many crashes by just training new drivers on when to get off the road when the conditions are bad and a plow or salt truck isn’t there yet. And, yeah, even more crashes would be prevented if we had adequate parking to get off the road when we need to.

As you may deduce by my tone, I am absolutely shaking my head here.

This is even more of a crock than I anticipated. Just as in the U.S., this mandate is not about safety. Touting this as a “safety” mandate is misleading when mandating cost and privacy infringements are taken into account.

This mandate is about one thing, and it’s a phrase I despise: “leveling the playing field!”
This mandate is all about big carriers pushing for that level playing field.

If the field was level, costs would be too. They would be the same for all truck operators. Big carriers have fuel discounts, tire discounts, shop rate discounts, truck pricing discounts … And then they cut freight rates and exploit owner-operators and drivers. That’s not my definition of a level playing field.

ELDs are a fleet management tool and should not be a national mandate to choke out small businesses with added burdensome costs.

We all know that’s what ELDs are for. And all the government can come up with to try and justify helping big carriers steam roll the little guy out of the industry is saying that the devices will reduce crashes – by TWO.

There’s nothing in this mandate to benefit the drivers.

We truck drivers absolutely have to make this harsh reality available to all the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators members of the Committee on Compliance and Regulations and our provincial representatives. We must bring some unbiased clarity on this ridiculous proposal and keep Canada from bowing down to the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Ontario Trucking Association, and other pro carrier associations.