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ELD Mandate – Who Is Exempted?

TO ELD or not to ELD?

By the end of December 2017, every motor carrier and driver falling under the scope of the ELD rule was required to have implemented electronic logging devices in their vehicles. As per the mandate, all motor carriers and drivers required to maintain a Record of Duty Status (RODS) need to use an ELD. The rule also applies to all commercial buses and trucks, as well as to drivers who are natives of Canada and Mexico. Commercial motor vehicles using AOBRDs are exempted from the rule till the end of this year and are required to shift to ELD by December 16, 2019.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the ELD mandate on December 10th, 2015. It was an amendment of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – an improvement to establish suitable rules for:

  • Performance and design standards of electronic logging devices related to hours of service;
  • Mandatory use of electronic logging device by drivers needing to document Record of Duty Status;
  • Necessary supporting documents regarding HOS; and
  • Protect drivers from possible harassment at the hand of motor carriers in relation to information collected from ELD or related technology.

The mandate comes with an eld compliance date. The reason behind this mandate was to ensure strict compliance with the rules of hours of service, thereby improving working conditions for the drivers, as well as making roads safer. However, the rule does not apply to all drivers and motor carriers, and there are some exceptions.

Major exemptions every commercial motor vehicle carrier and driver must know

ELD Rule Exemption for Vehicles Manufactured Before 2000

The most important technical requirement to install an electronic logging device that has been certified by the FMCSA and is also compliant with its rule is the presence of an engine control module. Vehicles and engines manufactured before the year of the 2000 did not have an ECM (engine control module). That is why a vehicle that was manufactured before 2000 is exempt from the mandatory installation of an ELD. However, it is important to note here, that sometimes drivers and motor carriers opt for an updated engine, and replace the older one. This can either be through a gilder kit, or simply by swapping the engines of two vehicles. In such cases, the manufacturing date of the engine is considered. So even if the vehicle was manufactured before 2000, but the engine is from 2000 or later, the vehicle will be required to install an electronic logging device. Also, if the engines are swapped, a post-2000 commercial motor vehicle can have a pre-2000 engine, and therefore will not need to have an ELD.

The documentation of proof of age of the vehicle or engine is not required to be kept with the driver at all times. However, the motor carrier is responsible to maintain proper records of any change on the motor and engine of all commercial motor vehicles it has in its fleet, according to 49 CFR Part 379 Appendix A.

The 100 air mile exemption

The term “air mile” is internationally known as “nautical miles”, and 100 air miles are actually equivalent to 115.08 miles or 185.2 kilometers. Under this exemption, any interstate driver with CDL who travels within 100 air miles radius of the work location, does not have to get an ELD in his/her vehicle. But to avail of this exemption, a driver is required to fulfill certain conditions.

  • A driver must travel only within a radius of 100 air miles of their starting location – the workplace.
  • A driver must start and end the day at the same location. They must report back to their work location at the end of the day.
  • A driver’s workday must not be longer than 12 hours.
  • A driver must have 10 consecutive hours of rest after every 12 hours of the work shift.
  • During the 12-hour duty period, the driver must not drive for more than 11 hours.

In case of roadside inspection, the driver must inform the safety officer that they are exempt from keeping records in the vehicle as they are operating under ‘100 mile radius exemptions’, and that the necessary records are kept at the carrier’s office.

Also, if for some reason the driver has traveled beyond the 100 miles radius, has driven for over 11 hours, or has been driving throughout the day without taking a break, the driver must use a regular log. The regular log can either be paper or electronic.

Sometimes, the work reporting locations for a driver can be different. In that case, the driver cannot avail of the exemption when he starts a day at one location, and at the end of the day, has to report to another. But this is only for the day he makes the switch from one location to another; he can use the exemption in the following days.

A driver can drive as many miles as required, given that they stay within the 100-mile radius. This is to ensure that they can report back to the work location at the end of the driving shift.

A driver can still drive a commercial motor vehicle that has an electronic logging device and avail of the exemption. How to proceed with using the exemption depends on the motor carrier. He can either ask the driver to log into the ELD and opt for “exempt driver” in the system, or can ask the driver to not log into the ELD, and attach an explanation to the unassigned driving time logged due to the driver’s movements. Comment for an explanation must give a detailed account of the reason behind driving a vehicle with ELD under the exemption.

The 150 air-mile radius exemption

This exemption is very similar to the 100 air-mile radius exemption, except it applies to drivers that do not have CDL and therefore cannot operate in any state that requires a CDL to drive. 150 air miles is equivalent to 172.5 miles. Here are the other conditions that a non-CDL driver must follow to benefit from the exemption:

  • They must not drive a vehicle that requires a Commercial Driving License.
  • They must operate within 150 air miles radius of their reporting location.
  • At the end of the day, they must come back to their work location.
  • In 7 consecutive days, they must not drive more than 14 hours in 5 days.
  • In 7 consecutive days, they must not drive more than 16 hours in 2 days.

The driver must log paper or electronic records in case he travels beyond the 150 air mile radius. However, this rule applies when the driver is beyond the 150 air mile radius; once the driver is back within the 100-mile radius, he is again exempt from the ELD rule.

Drivers who maintain Records of Duty Status (RODS) for eight or fewer days

Short haul drivers sometimes drive beyond their exempted limit (refer to points 3 and 4 above), and have to maintain a paper log. However, if they break the exception for 8 or more days in 30 days, they will be required to use an ELD for the rest of the period. This exemption helps the drivers that occasionally go beyond their driving radius in not upgrading their logging system. It also ensures that the drivers do not misuse the old short-haul exemption to get out of the mandatory installation of the electronic logging device.

Driveaway–Towaway Operations

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driveaway-towaway operations mean – when an empty or unloaded motor vehicle has one or more sets of its wheels on the surface of the roadway, and is being transported:

  • Between two or more facilities of a vehicle manufacturer;
  • Between the facility of the vehicle manufacturer and location of a dealership or any other purchaser;
  • Between a dealership’s or any other sellers’ facility and purchaser’s location.
  • To a motor carrier’s repair or service area or facility for repair of damages caused due to a crash;
  • To a motor carrier’s repair or service area or facility for repair of damages caused due to vehicle component or system failure; or
  • By means of saddle-mount or tow-bar.

So, there are two driveaway-towaway exemptions – one, when the CMV is being driven to be delivered at some place, as a part of a shipment, and two, when the CMV requires extensive repair. Apart from these two conditions, a driver of a driveaway-towaway has to use an ELD to record the logs.

Farm Vehicles

Privately owned farm vehicles that are used to transport commodities such as livestock, machinery or supplies are exempt from the ELD rule of using electronic logging devices. This exemption, however, does not apply to all agricultural vehicles and equipment.

Other ELD exemptions that FMCSA is considering


Exemption for Small Carrier

In May 2018, a bill called the Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Act was introduced to the US House of Representatives offering an exemption to small motor carriers (that have 10 or fewer vehicles) from using an electronic logging device to record the Hours of Service data. The authority to create and edit the parameters of the ELD rule lies with the FMCSA. However, this was the first change that was suggested through legislation. Recently, in March 2019, the bill was re-introduced to the US House of Representatives. It was introduced, backed by the belief that small motor carriers can efficiently operate by using paper logs, and that mandatory use of ELD will only result in complicating their operations. The proposed bill has not been accepted on the date of publication of this article.

Exemption for Agricultural Business

This bill was also re-introduced to the US House of Representatives in March 2019. The legislation asks for exemptions for all agricultural businesses and gives them the freedom to choose between using paper logs and an electronic logging device to monitor their hours of Service. The proposed bill has not been accepted on the date of publication of this article.

It is highly unlikely that the above-mentioned proposed changes to ELD exemptions will be accepted. This is because it’s been a year since the ELD mandate was introduced, and it has indeed increased the safety of the roads, improved working conditions for the drivers, and also improved proper adherence to the rules of HOS.

Even if a driver or a motor carrier is exempt from using an ELD, it does not mean that they cannot use it. There are several benefits of installing an electronic logging device that drivers and motor carriers must consider:

  1. Safety: ELDs, with proper fleet management solutions, can keep a track of the exact location of the CMV. This ensures that the driver is following the predetermined route. It also helps to reroute in case of traffic congestion or any other reason. Knowing the real-time location of a vehicle can also help in fast retrieval in case of theft or hijacking.
  2. Fuel Efficiency: ELDs can track bad driving behavior which may cause excessive use of fuel, like speeding or hard braking. Also, with route management, fuel can be optimally used without any unnecessary wastage.
  3. Paperwork: ELDs can record most data automatically, and can also keep historical data. The data can also be transferred to the Safety office whenever required. Integration with FMS allows the automatic generation of important reports, thereby saving time as well as recording accurate and authentic data.
  4. Fleet Management: Even when the fleet is small in size, ELD can help in better allocation of work to available vehicles. As it is installed within the OBD II/J1708/J1939 port, it can provide engine diagnostics and vehicle’s health reports, allowing for maintaining a service schedule and avoiding major repair costs.

If you are looking for an ELD that suits your requirement, contact Matrack Incorporation for some of the best eld devices for owner-operators. We have designed a breakthrough piece of technology – MA-ELD Classic. It is FMSCA approved electronic logging device, with Bluetooth technology for uninterrupted connectivity. Some of its brilliant features include:

  • Voice-activated status change
  • Violation Notification
  • Low fuel alerts
  • HOS logs
  • Real-time and Idle Time tracking
  • Accident reporting
  • Maintenance Check alerts

For more information on our ELD and fleet management services, get in touch with us!