Mandatory ELDs may create liability issues for private carriers

June 20, 2016 Fleet Management

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After years of study, the Canadian and U.S. governments are ready to make Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) mandatory for truck and bus drivers. Drivers will be required to track their hours of driving on electronic devices, rather than the mandatory paper logs that have been in use since the 1930s. The regulations would cover cross-border and interprovincial travel and should be in place in Canada when similar rules in the U.S. come into force in late 2017, Transport Canada says.

The goal of the move to modern technology is to track drivers’ hours on the road and rest periods to better monitor compliance with hours-of-service regulations.   Truck drivers can be behind the wheel for up to 13 hours in a day, but must be off-duty for 10 hours, eight of which need to be consecutive. The devices, which cost an average of a couple of thousand dollars depending on type of unit, track hours on the road and rest periods. The electronic units will make it easier for trucking companies, police and transportation enforcement officials to check on adherence to the laws.

Most large- and medium-size companies already have plans in place to make the move to ELDs.

However, legal experts are alerting fleet operators that the ELDs may create a new challenge – data management and storage.  Speaking at the recent Private Motor Truck Council of Canada conference in Toronto, Heather Devine of law firm Isaacs & Co., explained that ELDs will make it easier for plaintiff attorneys to look for non-compliance by carriers when litigating lawsuits for accidents.

ELDs will be transmitting significant amounts of data.  This data will need to be recorded and archived in such a way that it can be retrieved by plaintiff attorneys, much the same way that emails and company documents are requested in lawsuits.  Having poor data archiving will make this task extremely onerous, and runs the risk of demonstrating non-compliance with regulations simply through poor record-keeping.  Lawyers may also check the ELD data against other truck data such as engine telematics readings to look for inconsistencies.

If you’re a private fleet operator and concerned about the implications of the coming ELD program, contact us at

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