As we are well aware of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the year 2017, it is important to know that the constrain also has a leeway for certain aspects pertaining to the agricultural sector.
Undoubtedly, although the use of ELD has made maintaining records easier, the FMCSA has acknowledged that several rules in the mandate may not be necessary in every field. The FMCSA given ELD exemption to a couple of fields like the agricultural sector, private property transportation, vehicles catering to events and shows, non-business related transports, etc. While personal transportation may not need the device installed at all, the agricultural sector has received only leniency towards some rules. However, there are a few terms and conditions that follow the exemption to the agricultural sector, it is indeed crucial to understand this in detail.
Before we understand the required criteria that fits the agricultural exemption, let us read about the reasons behind the exemption first.
Reasons for ELD Exemption
- While harvesting crops, extended hours of work may be required to perform an array of procedures over the crop for various reasons. Storage, weather effects over the harvest, processing, etc. are a few considerations that may hamper accounting transportation hours.
- Livestock on the other hand may demand attention in another direction altogether. Animals cannot be ruthlessly left standing in the vehicle under extreme cold or hot weather. The health of the animals has to be taken into consideration too.
- Transportation of food stuff is yet another crucial factor to be acknowledged. Food is a perishable good and may require quick delivery in order to remain fresh and consumable. Some may need to be processed within a specific duration to maintain food quality.
- These factors led to an exemption of certain rules in ELD transition to the agricultural sector.
Nevertheless, this exemption is only applicable if the following conditions are met.
- The driver is supposed to be in a position to produce proof for a few FMCSA criteria which would determine if his vehicle falls under the exemption in case he is stopped by an official during transportation.
- The driver would need to show that the vehicle combination does not have a GVWR, GVW, GCWR or GCW (whichever holds greater value) of 10,001 pounds or more. Only in this case, the HOS and commercial driving license (CDL) will not applicable.
- In case the vehicle or vehicle combination has a GVWR, GVW, GCWR or GCW (whichever holds greater value) of 10,001 pounds or more, but less than 26,001 pounds, then the driver might need an ELD to complete the RODS and a commercial driving license (CDL) might be needed.
- A farmer or the truck driver will be free from the ELD mandate of issuing a commercial driving license or not violating his hours of service, only when he is transporting within a 150-air mile radius of the farm.
- However, a covered farm vehicle carrying stock that weighs less than 26,000 pounds is allowed to use the exemption leeway while transporting anywhere within the country.
- As per the Transporting Livestock across America Safely Act, the air mile radius might be extended from 150 air miles to 300 air miles.
- The hours of service may also be extended to 18 hours instead of 14 hours. However, there are arguments relevant to the same still in process and hence these extensions are not confirmed yet.
- The FMCSA has imposed a 30 minute break rule, which does not apply to bee transporters while they are transporting bees from one place to another. The same applies to livestock transporters while they have livestock on board.
Although the FMCSA has exempted agricultural commodities from the mandate, they aren’t completely excluded from the same.
There are indeed a few points that still put them under this constrain. They are:
- A driver may be accountable to maintaining the hours of service rule if he has finished with his delivery.
- The driver may not be allowed to load another truck after the delivery if he has crossed or is close to exhausting his hours of service.
- The 30 minute break rule will apply to the driver if he doesn’t have livestock or bees or perishable foodstuff on board.
- Although the rules of the ELD mandate are flexible to agricultural commodity transport, the driver will have to transition to an ELD to maintain a record.
- The mandate may not be flexible if the driver clubs goods other than agricultural commodities in a single transport.
Albeit the exemption feeling like liberation from strict rules, a fleet manager or businessman should always consider the benefits of ELD installation before rejecting it.
Here are a few reasons you would be happy to still stick by the ELD and use it where ever possible;
- ELD have been a success in the Europe for over 10 years now.
- Successful businesses that resorted to ELD have not budged and still choose to continue with its service.
- ELD serve as an investment that helps with saving money and time, thus making the fleet more efficient and flawless.
- The hours of service rule works towards the benefit of the driver. It makes sure that the driver is at ease when he is behind the wheel. This indeed avoids unwanted collisions and saves a business from facing heavy losses.
- It is always good to maintain record of your fleet and what better than the ELD can help with making this possible?
Exemptions are Subject to Change
In due course of time, as the functioning of the agricultural sector in compliance with ELD is scrutinized, there may be several changes made in the exemption. It is important to keep yourself updated with the same. Contact you provider for updates on change of rules if any, periodically.
It is also vital that you understand the exemptions properly and have your driver learn about the same. This will ensure that you are not misguided or are taking undue advantage of the exemption intentionally or unintentionally.
For any assistance or additional information on ELD installation, you could visit the Electronic Logging Device section in our website.