New federal safety regulations for the trucking industry go into effect Saturday with the mandatory requirement for electronic logging devices in semi-trucks.

The new rules are in place for commercial trucks and buses travelling between provinces.

Approved electronic logging devices – or ELDs – are connected to the truck’s systems and automatically recognizes when the vehicle is moving.

The technology is primarily focused on managing truck drivers’ hours of service – and a preventative way to manage fatigue.

Terry Shaw, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association, said, “It’s about time” for the new regulations.

“For years, the trucking industry has been advocating for improved oversight and enforcement around hours of service compliance.”

Under the hours of service rules, truckers are not allowed to drive more than 13 hours in a day and are required to have at least eight consecutive hours off-duty.

Until now, paper logbooks were the only regulation in place to track hours of service.

“Any technology or any policy that will increase compliance with hours of service rules, which we know ELDs do, is a technology that is certainly welcome by the trucking industry,” Shaw said.

In late April, Winnipeg truck driver Sarbjit Matharu was found guilty of four counts of criminal negligence causing death in a 2016 crash in Ontario. The judge’s decision said Matharu had been driving on only two hours’ sleep and had falsified his driving log on the trip from Winnipeg to complete the delivery on the time.

On its website, Transport Canada says ELDs will help reduce fatigue-related crashes and deaths, as well as lower administrative and enforcement costs. The changes also align with regulatory requirements in the US where ELDs have been mandatory for years.

Shaw said many Manitoba trucking companies have already adopted the use of ELDs and thinks those who haven’t will embrace the technology.

“It just makes their life that much easier,” Shaw said, citing compliance responsibilities and the administrative burden on truckers.

Transport Canada says companies will not be penalized until June 2022 for any trucks without ELDs. Instead, the focus will be on educational enforcement.

Trucks travelling strictly within Manitoba are only subject to provincial regulations at the time, but ELDs will be mandatory in the province this December.