ELD exemptions: Things to know

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a fleet of buses parked very close to one another
30 Oct 2017


Noncompliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s upcoming hours of service monitoring regulation could result in fines and potential driver disqualification following an officer’s roadside inspection. For most carriers, having an ELD implemented by the Dec. 18 deadline will prevent them having to face penalties once enforcement begins.

However, there are a few circumstances under which drivers would not face the risk of legal punishment for disobeying an electronic logging device rule because they meet the qualifications for certain exemptions.

It’s important that owners and operators are aware of ELD exemptions so that effort is not poured into compliance initiatives when it may not be necessary.

Understanding eligibility

Before exemptions can be fully articulated, fleet owners and drivers should know what types of vehicles the ELD mandate applies to.

According to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations site, the FMCSA rule applies to anything listed as a commercial motor vehicle. A CMV is defined as any self-propelled or towed vehicle operated on a highway for interstate commerce in moving goods or passengers under certain criteria:

  • The vehicle has a gross weight of all combined parts greater than 10,001 pounds.
  • More than eight passengers, including the driver, are capable of being transported for compensation.
  • More than fifteen passengers, including the driver, are capable of being transported without any compensation.
  • Vehicle is used to transport material deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Transportation in quantities which require the use of placard identifiers.

Exemptions can vary widely

The FMCSA has an official list of exemptions to the ELD regulations.

One exemption is for drivers working in the agriculture industry. During times of planting and harvesting established by the state, drivers transporting agricultural goods such as bees, livestock and other commodities within a 150-air mile radius of the goods’ source are exempt. According to the FMCSA agriculture exemptions webpage, exemptions are also applied when delivering agriculture equipment and supplies from a retail distribution point.

Drivers whose vehicle engine was manufactured before 2000 are also exempt. The rule applies to the engines specifically, so if a truck has a glider kit made in 2008 but a 1998 engine, it is free from the ELD enforcement. Drivers are not required to keep documentation of their engine status when working, however it is recommended that they do so in these cases to prevent confusion during an inspection.

Operators that use paper for their record of driving service for no more than eight days out of every 30 days are also exempt, Heavy Duty Trucking reported.

“So if you operate under exemption most of the time, say you’re a 100-air-mile radius driver that on occasion works longer than 12 hours or more than 100 air miles, as long as it doesn’t happen more than 8 times in 30 days, you’re not required to have an ELD,” said Joe DeLorenzo, director of the FMCSA office of enforcement and compliance, to Heavy Duty Trucking. “It is going to require some advance planning … If you see one of your drivers getting close to that, the next run you have that exits that [radius], then that load goes to a different driver.”

Exemptions are also given to drivers conducting drive-away-tow-away operations in which the vehicle being driven is a deliverable commodity. Or, the automobile being moved is a recreational vehicle or motor home with one or more sets of wheels in contact with the surface of the road.

One thing all industry workers should know is that even if a driver is granted a circumstantial exemption from ELD use and enforcement, they must still record their duty status manually.

Lee Trans has been providing compliance-focused services and industry expertise to carriers for over 30 years. Let us help your company stay in line with agency regulation to keep your productivity on track.