With the ELD mandate looming, we have received various regulatory questions from carriers, drivers, shippers, and other industry stakeholders. We have been actively trying to answer these questions through our previous blog posts, and one area that has come up several times is ELD exemptions.
There are many exemption requests that are still being put forward by various transportation groups, with the most recent being the OOIDA’s November 21st request for ELD mandate exemption for small businesses with no at-fault crash history. However, requests like these have not been granted by the FMCSA. So, below is the list of what has been granted thus far, along with some other FAQ regarding exemptions.
Who qualifies for exemptions from the ELD rule?
The following drivers are not required to use ELDs; however, they are still bound by the Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations and must prepare logs on paper, or by using an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD)/logging software program when required.
1) Drivers who use the timecard exception. These are drivers who operate short haul, within a 100-air mile radius.
2) Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period. The 30-day period is not restricted to a single month. For example, June 15 to July 15 is considered a 30-day period.
3) Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000 (as reflected on the vehicle registration). This includes when the vehicle registration for a commercial motor vehicle reflects a model year of 2000 or newer, but the connections and motor vehicle components (such as the engine) are older than model year 2000.
Why? When a vehicle is registered, the model year should follow the criteria established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are some instances where the model year reflected on the vehicle registration is not the same as the engine model year.
This most commonly occurs when a vehicle is rebuilt using a “glider kit.” In this circumstance, an inspector/investigator should use the model year on the engine to determine if the driver is exempt from the ELD requirements. If the engine model year is older than 2000, the driver is not subject to the ELD rule.
Drivers are not required to keep documentation that confirms the vehicle engine model year on them at all times. However, motor carrier companies are required to maintain all documentation on motor and engine changes at their principle place of business. If a determination cannot be made at the roadside, Law Enforcement will refer the case for further investigation.
4) Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations. This situation applies when the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or a recreation vehicle trailer with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding ELDS and Exemptions
1) Are drivers whose home base is in either Canada or Mexico exempt from ELDs when they are operating in the United States?
No. Canada and Mexico domiciled drivers must comply with the FMCSA HOS rules while operating in the United States. This includes using compliant ELDs, unless they qualify under one of the exemptions listed above.
2) How will an ELD record a driver’s HOS when operating in another country such as Canada?
The ELD provider may tailor the device to its customers’ needs/operations to assist them in accurately monitoring drivers’ hours of service compliance in accordance with the hours of service standards of the country operated in, such as cross-border operations.
3) Can drivers operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) equipped with ELDs, when they are not required to use because of an exception?
Yes. Drivers can drive CMVs equipped with ELDs and still use their exception. A motor carrier will be able to program an ELD to show the exception for drivers exempt from using the ELD, or use the ELD annotation to record the status.
Remember, authorized safety officials may inspect and copy motor carrier records and request any records needed to perform their duties. Furthermore, if a driver is stopped after Dec. 18, the first and foremost thing inspectors will be looking for is if they in compliance with the hours of service regulations.
If they are, and they have a paper log that shows they are incompliance, they will only be cited for the violation of not having an ELD. These citations for non-ELD violations will happen from the compliance date of December 18th to April 2018. Those violation won’t count against their SMS score, and they will be allowed to continue driving during that period between December and April.
So, to clarify, during the regular course of a carrier having a DOT inspection done (scales, ports, roadside issues, moving violations, etc.), if a driver does not have an ELD device he will not be fined, BUT if their paper Log Book is not accurate, they WILL BE PUT OUT OF SERVICE (OOS).
Numerous reports suggest that compliance check with be on the rise post December 18th, so a carrier running with inaccurate paper logs books will have a higher probability of being put OOS given the increase in DOT checks that is expected.