EOBR Regulations in Canada and the U.S.

Nov 26, 2012

One of the many benefits of attending industry conferences is the opportunity to discuss current trends and issues with colleagues. That was exactly the case earlier this month when I attended the CITT “Reposition 2012” conference in Halifax, NS to make a presentation on key performance indicators and performance metrics.
It was during one of these conversations that the subject of EOBR’s (electronic on-board recorders) came up. My colleague works for a leading asset-based Canadian motor carrier and quickly outlined her concerns over the potential impact for transportation companies, particularly as they relate to U.S. regulations.
Coincidentally, an excellent article on this subject in the October edition of Truck News reminded me of our conversation and provided some welcome insight into this evolving issue.
The gist of the Truck News report appears to be that we may not be seeing any definitive Canadian regulations on EOBR’s any time soon. Not because Canadian regulatory agencies and industry associations aren’t interested, but because of the one-step-forward, two-step-back progress experienced by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) in the U.S. since the issue of EOBR’s was first introduced.
EOBR’s will provide an electronic platform for enforcing compliance with HOS (hours-of-service) regulations, rather than the current manually-intensive paper systems. HOS and EOBR regulations have both endured their share of legal challenges in the U.S., resulting in changes which added to industry confusion. Nonetheless, the final rule for HOS in the U.S. related to commercial motor vehicles took effect earlier this year, and the FMCSA recently amended EOBR regulations pertaining to commercial motor vehicles manufactured after June 4, 2012 (compliant EOBR’s installed in vehicles manufactured prior to that date can continue to be used for the life of the vehicle). But since the intent of the FMCSA appears to be the continued expansion of EOBR’s to target carriers that do not comply with HOS rules, one might expect further revisions in future.
Where does that leave Canadian EOBR regulations? According to the Truck News article, some Canadian carriers have already adopted the use of EOBR’s voluntarily for monitoring performance standards and tracking hours-of-service compliance, but a Canadian standard has yet to be developed.
The CCMTA (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators) has appointed a steering committee to work on the issue, and they are keenly aware of the many challenges encountered by the FMCSA. A primary concern for Canadian regulators will be development of a standard that meets safety, enforcement and jurisdictional needs across the country, but the steering committee also acknowledges it should ideally meet the requirements of U.S. regulators as well to avoid border-crossing issues.
While many shippers may regard EOBR’s as a “carrier issue”, motor carriers are looking at the bigger picture in terms of the potential impact on driver availability, labour costs, and their ability to provide timely delivery services for their customers. And that should make it an issue worth following for everyone involved.

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