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ELD Short-Haul Exemptions: What You Need to Know

By Verizon ConnectNovember 18, 2020

Though the bulk of conversation on trucking industry compliance and regulatory trends focuses on long-haul, short-haul has its own unique set of challenges. Unlike long-haul, short-haul is often faced with increased levels of city traffic, and drivers have to dedicate valuable time to backup to multiple docks per day.

Short-haul drivers also have to contend with more construction and detours than long-haul. A change in a traffic pattern can drastically impact a short-haul route.

Because short-haul is so demanding, short-haul drivers and dispatchers have increased pressure to work together effectively—as well as consequences for not doing so—using every resource possible to minimize downtime and delays.

In this article, we'll dive into what qualifies for a short-haul Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate exemption, and what short-haul fleets should consider in deciding whether to take advantage of the ELD exception or use ELD and telematics to their advantage.

The ELD Rule

To clearly outline the exemptions available for short-haul truck drivers, we must first look at the ELD mandate itself.

The ELD mandate took effect December 18, 2017, requiring drivers to record hours of duty time using an ELD. The "hard enforcement" date in April 2018 as well as the AOBRD transition date in December 2019 have passed.

According to the Hours of Service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS) can be checked and reviewed by inspection officers at any time, including designated roadside checkpoints.

The stated objective of the ELD rule is to make the roads safer for everyone. According to the FMCSA website, the ELD rule “is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.”

Who is exempt from the ELD rule?

The FMCSA does grant exceptions where they deem the mandate is not appropriate for the use case, industry or specific application.

An exception that spans across a variety of different industries is made for short-haul drivers. According to the FMCSA, “drivers who use the short-haul, timecard exceptions are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs.”

Shortly after publishing the ELD mandate, the definition of short-haul driving limits for CMVs was challenged by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and a change to this definition is part of the HOS final rule that was published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2020 and due to come into effect later in 2020.

In addition to the short-haul exception, the following drivers are not required to use ELDs, but they still must document RODS using paper logs, AORBDs, or a logging software program:

  • Drivers who are required to keep RODS not more than 8 days within any 30-day period.
  • Drivers conducting a drive-away-tow-away operation (an operation in which an empty or unladen motor vehicle with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway is being transported) if the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or if the vehicle being transported is a motorhome or recreational vehicle trailer.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000.

In addition to these exceptions, the mandate continues to evolve. For example, the FMCSA issued clarification earlier this year on the 150-air-mile exemption from the Hours of Service (HOS) rules for transporting agricultural commodities.

Also earlier this year, the FMCSA added a temporary exemption for motor carriers and drivers involved in Hurricane Michael relief efforts in eight states in an extended regional emergency declaration.

And finally, there are temporary exemptions in place for fleets that were running automatic onboarding recording devices (AOBRDs) that were installed prior to December 18, 2017.

These updates and exemptions are great examples of why fleets cannot simply consider themselves compliant at a single point in time; it is important to continually review your compliance and exemption status.

Benefits of ELD implementation go far beyond compliance. Download this ebook to find out more.

How to determine if you’re exempt

To determine if you qualify for exemption from compliance with the ELD mandate, you should make certain that you meet all of the requirements of your exception category.

There are a few parameters that define whether or not a driver qualifies as short-haul. CDL drivers qualify as short-haul if you:

  • drive only within a 150-air-mile radius
  • do not drive more than 11 hours at a time
  • maintain time-clock function
  • are completely off-duty within 14 hours of the start of the work day
  • go back to the same work location every single day
  • have at least 10 consecutive off-duty hours between each shift

If you miss any of these requirements on a single day, you are then required to log your hours in a paper logbook. If you break any of the requirements more than eight times during a 30-day period, you are then required to implement an ELD solution.

If you are unsure whether you meet the requirements for a short-haul ELD exemption, you can email [email protected] or call 1-800-832-5660 for more information.

Other HOS exemptions

In addition to the short-haul exception, the following drivers are not required to use ELDs, but they still must document RODS using paper logs, or an e-logging software program:

  • Drivers who are required to keep RODS not more than 8 days within any 30-day period.
  • Drivers conducting a drive-away-tow-away operation (an operation in which an empty or unladen motor vehicle with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway is being transported) if the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or if the vehicle being transported is a motorhome or recreational vehicle trailer.
  • Drivers of commercial motor vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000.
  • Drivers of vehicles transporting agricultural commodities within an 150-air-mile radius

In addition to these exceptions, Hours of Service rules and the ELD mandate continue to evolve. For example, at the same time as declaring the publication of the HOS final rule in mid May 2020, the FMCSA also extended Hours of Service exemptions for some industries involved in COVID-19 relief. And in the past, emergency exemptions have been granted during notable weather events like the  Hurricane Michael relief efforts in 2018.

These updates and exemptions are great examples of why fleets cannot simply consider themselves compliant at a single point in time; it is important to continually review your compliance and exemption status.

How to stay up-to-date with evolving ELD rules.

The important thing to remember is that when it comes to fleet management  and FMCSA compliance, you can’t take a “one and done” approach. As seen in the addition of the changes to the short haul exemption definition, the addition of the 150-mile-radius exemption for agriculture, as well as temporary  exceptions made for hurricane relief efforts, HOS rules regulations and requirements are always evolving.

With around-the-clock fleet tracking, you can effectively manage unsafe behavior, reduce your maintenance costs, and boost productivity and efficiency within your short-haul routes.

Should you consider an ELD even if currently exempt?

Even for those fleets that meet the requirements for an ELD exemption today, the following categories of fleets should especially consider implementing a telematics solution:

1. If you plan to grow your business

If you are currently growing or plan to grow within the next year, you may want to consider implementing an ELD or telematics solution today. Going through the initial implementation is often easier with a smaller number of vehicles and drivers. Then, you can easily scale the solution as you grow.

2. If you’re actively working to mitigate CSA violations

Despite being exempt from the ELD requirements, implementing a telematics solution across your fleet can contribute to your total CSA score by making you more aware of all activities with your fleet, such as frequent speeding or hard braking.

3. If you have multiple drivers

If you have multiple drivers or vehicles, you are more likely to see the financial return quickly from implementing a telematics solution.

To learn more about the industries that are benefiting from the use of telematics, visit verizonconnect.com/industries.

The information contained in this document may or may not be correct and/or complete at the time of reading and is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific professional or legal advice or opinions. No recipients of content from this documents should act or refrain from acting on the basis of content of the document without seeking appropriate legal advice or other professional counseling. Verizon Connect expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based on any or all contents of this document.


Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.


Tags: ELD & Compliance, Performance & Coaching, Productivity & Efficiency, Routing, Safety, Team Management

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