HomeResourcesBlogA Comprehensive Guide to ELD Exemptions
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A Comprehensive Guide to ELD Exemptions

By Brad Penneau June 1, 2021

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate affects millions of commercial drivers. If you are currently required to complete a Records of Duty Status (RODS) or Hours of Service (HOS) logbook, then it's likely the switch to ELDs will affect you. Let’s take a closer look at who is impacted, exemptions and exceptions to the rule.

Who is impacted by the ELD mandate?

The ELD Final Rule applies to commercial interstate truckers (including owner operators and small carriers), bus drivers, and most motor carriers who are required to maintain RODS and HOS. Those who meet the requirements based on weight or activity to record duty status information are also required to comply. If you’ve used paper logs for RODS or HOS in the past, you should confirm with your governing DOT (Department of Transportation) if the rule applies and understand what it would take to get ELDs in place.

Canada-and Mexico-domiciled CDL drivers are included, unless they qualify for one of the exceptions to the ELD rule.

Who is exempt from the ELD mandate?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) currently allows the following eld mandate exemptions:

  • Short haul drivers
  • Drive away/tow away operations where the commercial motor vehicle being driven is the commodity
  • Drivers operating vehicles that are older than model year 2000
  • Drivers that only keep logs for 8 days out of a 30 day period
  • Agricultural, farm and livestock vehicles

ELD exemption #1: Short-haul drivers

The short-haul exemption is for truck drivers who use the 150 air-mile radius (non-CDL short haul) exception - see CFR Sections 395.1(e)(1) and 395.1(e)(2). For some short haul drivers who go outside of this exemption, there is another exemption to help them out: drivers with 8 days of RODS or less, see ELD exemption #4 below. For more on short-haul exceptions have a look at our helpful blog post.

ELD exemption #2: Driveaway-towaway operations

If the commercial motor vehicle being driven is part of a shipment, an ELD is not required for the driveaway-towaway driver. If the vehicle being driven is going to be sold as a commodity the vehicle and driver are exempt from the ELD mandate. For example, if a CMW is being driven from a manufacturer’s yard to the shipping yard of a purchasing company, compliance is not required because the commercial vehicle is the commodity being delivered. 

ELD Exemption #3: Pre-2000 vehicles

Vehicle models dated 1999 or earlier are exempt from the ELD mandate regardless of the vehicle registration date. This exemption applies specifically to the age of an engine in a vehicle or the VIN as most pre-2000 vehicles are not equipped with an engine control module (ECM). If the VIN is pre-2000, the vehicle is likely exempt. However, some vehicles have had engines swapped in from another vehicle using a glider kit. In this instance, the engine model year determines whether or not the vehicle is ELD exempt. If an engine is pre-2000 but the vehicle itself is not, the exemption still applies. There has been a lot of debate about this exemption, but the confusion was cleared up in mid-2018 by the FMCSA.

ELD exemption #4: Drivers with 8 days of RODS or less

Drivers who use Records of Duty Status (RODS) for 8 days or less in any 30-day period, as are also exempt from using electronic logging devices. If a driver doesn’t frequently go over the 8 days of RODS, they can use an ELD on demand for the times they do. However, if a driver is continually going over 8 of every 30 consecutive days, it’s best to install a permanent ELD solution on their vehicle.

ELD exemption #5: Agricultural & farm vehicles

All of the above electronic logging device exemptions apply to the agriculture industry, including agricultural commodities. Livestock haulers require additional time and flexibility because they are delivering a living, breathing commodity that must be cared for properly. Currently, all livestock haulers are ELD exempt unless they travel beyond a 150-air mile radius, then they must comply with HOS rules and ELD requirements.

Common ELD Mandate Exemptions Questions 

Do I still need to maintain paper logs if I'm exempt?

It's important to note that the ELD exemptions and exceptions relate to the ELD mandate, not the Hours of Service rules and requirements outlined in Regulation 395. In most cases, trucking companies and drivers are still required to keep simplified timecards or paper records showing the time they report for and are released from duty each day, and their total number of hours on duty.

What about AOBRDs?

AOBRD stands for Automatic On-Board Recording Device and it records a driver’s Hours of Service (HOS). AOBRDs use software different from ELD software and tend to record less data compared to ELDs. For example, AOBRDs do not recorded any identifying driver, carrier, or vehicle information. AOBRDs record each change of duty status, but the data can be entered manually and edit history is not readily available in a DOT inspection. ELDs, on the other hand, have data that is either impossible or difficult to manipulate without that information being flagged by a DOT inspector or fleet manager

AOBRDs have been used as an interim solution prior to the ELD mandate going into full effect. The FMCSA temporarily grandfathered AOBRDs in as long as they were installed before the ELD compliance deadline of December 18, 2017. But the grandfather clause is coming to an end and all CMVs that are not exempt must have and ELD solution by December 16, 2019. Learn more about the difference between AOBRDs and ELDs.

Switching to ELDs benefits all carriers and motorists 

Even if you are not legally required to use ELDs there are many benefits in switching to an automated compliance and fleet management solution as drivers in the trucking industry, including:

  • Improved driver safety and CSA scores through automated driver management.
  • Minimized paperwork with data readily available via the cloud at all times, simplifying operations and reducing operating costs.
  • Faster completion of roadside checks an assurance that your drivers and vehicles are compliant, leading to greater uptime and more revenue.
  • Lower costs for fuel and maintenance using optimized GPS routes, monitors for unproductive idling time, leading to reduced vehicle wear and tear.

Most CMV drivers are now required to comply with the ELD mandate. If you are not in compliance, you’re subject to fines, violations, increased insurance rates and more. Plus, the benefits of switching to an ELD solution far outweigh the costs. Aren’t sure if you’re required to comply? Don’t risk it. Contact one of our fleet experts today to learn more.

Brad Penneau

With a career in transportation safety spanning 30 years, Penneau’s experience includes progressively responsible safety, regulatory compliance, and training in (and in support of) the trucking industry.

Tags: ELD & Compliance, Safety, Team Management

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