ELD Mandate – Who Is Exempted?

TO ELD or not to ELD?

By the end of December 2017, every motor carrier and driver falling under the scope of ELD rule was required to have implemented electronic logging device in their vehicles. As per the mandate, all motor carriers and drivers required to maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS) need to use an ELD. The rule also applies to all commercial buses and trucks, as well as to drivers who are native of Canada and Mexico. Commercial motor vehicles using AOBRDs are exempted from the rule till the end of this year, and are required to shift to ELD by December 16, 2019.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the ELD mandate on December 10th, 2015. It was an amendment of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – an improvement to established suitable rules for:

  • Performance and design standards of electronic logging devices related to hours of service;
  • Mandatory use of electronic logging device by drivers needing to document Record of Duty Status;
  • Necessary supporting documents regarding HOS; and
  • Protect drivers from possible harassment at the hand of motor carriers in relation to information collected from ELD or related technology.

The mandate comes with an eld compliance date. The reason behind this mandate was to ensure strict compliance with the rules of hours of service, thereby improving working conditions for the drivers, as well as making roads safer. However, the rule does not apply to all drivers and motor carriers, and there are some exceptions.

There are certain major exemptions that every commercial motor vehicle carrier and driver must know. What are they? Let’s see.

  1. ELD Rule Exemption for Vehicles Manufactured Before 2000: The most important technical requirement to install an electronic logging device that has been certified by the FMCSA and is also compliant with its rule, is the presence of an engine control module. Vehicles and engines manufactured before the year of the 2000 did not have an ECM (engine control module). That is why a vehicle that was manufactured before 2000 is exempt from mandatory installation of an ELD. However, it is important to note here, that sometimes drivers and motor carrier opt for an updated engine, and replace the older one. This can either be through a gilder kit, or simply by swapping the engines of two vehicles. In such cases, the manufacturing date of the engine is considered. So even if the vehicle was manufactured before 2000, but the engine is from 2000 or later, the vehicle will be required to install an electronic logging device. Also, if the engines are swapped, a post-2000 commercial motor vehicle can have a pre-2000 engine, and therefore will not need to have an ELD.

The documentation of proof of age of vehicle or engine is not required to be kept with the driver at all times. However, the motor carrier is responsible to maintain proper records of any change on the motor and engine of all commercial motor vehicles it has in its fleet, according to 49 CFR Part 379 Appendix A.

  • The 100 air mile exemption: The term “air mile” is internationally known as “nautical miles”, and 100 air miles are actually equivalent to 115.08 miles or 185.2 kilometers. Under this exemption, any interstate driver with CDL who travels within 100 air miles radius of the work location, does not have to get an ELD in his/her vehicle. But to avail this exemptions, a driver is required to fulfill certain conditions.
  • A driver must travel only within a radius 100 air miles of their starting location – the workplace.
  • A driver must start and end the day at same location. They must report back to their work location at the end of the day.
  • A driver’s workday must not ne longer than 12 hours.
  • A driver must have 10 consecutive hours of rest after every 12 hours of work shift.
  • During the 12 hour duty period, the driver must not drive for more than 11 hours.

In case of roadside inspection, the driver must inform the safety officer that they are exempt from keeping records in the vehicle as they are operating under ‘100 mile radius exemptions’, and that the necessary records are kept at the carrier’s office.

Also, if for some reason the driver has travelled beyond the 100 miles radius, or has driven for over 11 hours, or has been driving throughout the day without taking a break, the driver must use a regular log. The regular log can either be paper or electronic.

Sometimes, the work reporting locations for a driver can be different. In that case, the driver cannot avail of the exemption when he starts a day at one location, and at the end of the day, has to report to another. But this is only for the day he makes the switch from one location to another; he can use the exemption in following days.

A driver can drive as many miles as required, given that they stay inside the 100 mile radius. This is to ensure that they can report back to work location at the end of the driving shift.

A driver can still drive a commercial motor vehicle that has an electronic logging device and avail of the exemption. How to proceed with the using the exemption depends on the motor carrier. He can either ask the driver to log into the ELD and opt for “exempt driver” in the system, or can ask the driver to not log into the ELD, and attach an explanation to the unassigned driving time logged due to driver’s movements. Comment for explanation must give a detailed account of the reason behind driving a vehicle with ELD under exemption.

  • The 150 air mile radius exemption: This exemption is very similar to the 100 air mile radius exemption, except it applies to drivers that do not have CDL and therefore cannot operate in any state that requires a CDL to drive. 150 air mile is equivalent to 172.5 miles. Here are the other conditions that a non-CDL driver must follow to benefit from the exemption:
  • They must not drive a vehicle that requires a Commercial Driving License.
  • They must operate within 150 air miles radius of their reporting location.
  • At the end of the day, they must come back to their work location.
  • In a period of 7 consecutive days, they must not drive more than 14 hours in 5 days.
  • In a period of 7 consecutive days, they must not drive more than 16 hours in 2 days.

The driver must log paper or electronic records in case he travels beyond the 150 air mile radius. However, this rule applies when the driver is beyond the 150 air mile radius; once the driver is back within the 100-mile radius, he is again exempt from ELD rule.

  • Drivers who maintain Records of Duty Status (RODS) for eight or less days: Short haul drivers sometimes drive beyond their exempted limit (refer to points 3 and 4 above), and have to maintain a paper log. However, if they break the exception for 8 or more days in a period of 30 days, they will be required to use an ELD for the rest of the period. This exemption helps the drivers that occasionally go beyond their driving radius in not upgrading their logging system. It also ensures that the drivers do not misuse the eld short-haul exemption to get out of mandatory installation of the electronic logging device.
  • Driveaway –Towaway Operations: According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driveaway-towaway operations mean – where an empty or unloaded motor vehicle has one or more sets of its wheels on the surface of the roadway, and is being transported:
  • Between two or more facilities of a vehicle manufacturer;
  • Between the facility of the vehicle manufacturer and location of a dealership or any other purchaser;
  • Between a dealership’s or any other sellers’ facility and purchaser’s location.
  • To a motor carrier’s repair or service area or facility for repair of damages caused due to a crash;
  • To a motor carrier’s repair or service area or facility for repair of damages caused due to vehicle component or system failure; or
  • By means of saddle-mount or tow-bar.

           So, there are two driveaway-towaway exemption – one, when the CMV is being driven to be delivered at some place, as a part of a shipment, and two, when the CMV requires extensive repair. Apart from these two conditions, a driver of a driveaway-towaway has to use an ELD to record the logs.

  • Farm Vehicles: Privately owned farm vehicles that are used to transport commodities such as livestock, machinery or supplies are exempt from ELD rule of using electronic logging device. This exemption, however, does not apply to all agricultural vehicles and equipment.

The FMCSA has been considering a few other ELD exemptions:

  1. Exemption for Small Carrier: In May 2018, a bill called Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Act was introduced to the US House of Representatives offering an exemption to small motor carrier (that have 10 or less vehicles) from using an electronic logging device to record the Hours of Service data. The authority to create and edit the parameters of the ELD rule lies with the FMCSA. However, this was the first change that was suggested through a legislation. Recently, in March 2019, the bill was re-introduced to the US House of Representatives. It was introduce, backed by the belief that small motor carriers can efficiently operate by using paper logs, and that mandatory use of ELD will only result in complicating their operations. The proposed bill has not been accepted on the date of publication of this article.
  2. Exemption for Agricultural Business: This bill was also re-introduced to the US House of Representatives in March 2019. The legislation asks for exemptions of all agricultural businesses, and gives them the freedom to choose between using paper logs and an electronic logging device to monitor their hours of Service. The proposed bill has not been accepted on the date of publication of this article.

It is highly unlikely that the above mentioned proposed changes to ELD exemptions will be accepted. This is because it’s been a year that ELD mandate was introduced, and it has indeed increased the safety of the roads, improved working conditions for the drivers, and also improved proper adherence to the rules of HOS.

Even if a driver or a motor carrier is exempt from using an ELD, it does not mean that they cannot use it. There are several benefits of installing an electronic logging device that drivers and motor carriers must consider:

  • Safety: ELDs, with proper fleet management solution, can keep a track of exact location of the CMV. This ensures that the driver is following the predetermined route. It also helps to reroute in case of traffic congestion or any other reason. Knowing the real-time location of a vehicle can also help in fast retrieval in case of theft or hijacking.
  • Fuel Efficiency: ELDs can track bad driving behavior which may cause excess use of fuel, like speeding or hard braking. Also, with route management, fuel can be optimally used without any unnecessary wastage.
  • Paperwork: ELD can record most data automatically, and can also keep historical data. The data can also be transferred to the Safety office whenever required. Integration with FMS allow automatic generation of important reports, thereby saving time as well as recording accurate and authentic data.
  • Fleet Management: Even when the fleet is small in size, ELD can help in better allocation of work to available vehicles. As it is installed within the OBD II/J1708/J1939 port, it can provide engine diagnostics and vehicle’s health report, allowing for maintaining a service schedule and avoiding major repair costs.

If you are looking for an ELD that suits your requirement, contact Matrack Incorporation for some of the best eld devices for owner operator. We have designed a breakthrough piece of technology – MA-ELD Classic . It is FMSCA approved electronic logging device, with Bluetooth technology for uninterrupted connectivity. Some of its brilliant features include:

  • Voice activated status change
  • Violation Notification
  • Low fuel alerts
  • HOS logs
  • Real time and Idle Time tracking
  • Accident reporting
  • Maintenance Check alerts

For more information on our ELD and fleet management services, get in touch with us!

ELD Rule And Driver Harassment

“If the boss says, it must be right. Isn’t it?”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration came up with the ELD mandate to ensure safer road travel, efficient and streamlined fleet management and operation, and more importantly – adherence to hours of service (HOS) rule. Before introducing the mandate, the FMCSA conducted several researches and took into account various grievances filed by the drivers – the common one being coerced to change the HOS records and other instances of driver harassment.

When the ELD was introduced, FMCSA made sure that motor carriers could not harass or coerce drivers into violating federal laws. It clearly defines harassment as:

“Action by a motor carrier toward a driver (whether an employee or a contractor) that the carrier knew or should have known would result in an HOS violation in 49 CFR 395 or 49 CFR 392.3.” FMCSA also clearly states that harassment only applies when information from the ELD or any other technology used along with ELD is involved in the carrier’s action.

Therefore, harassment necessarily occurs due to the action of a motor carrier towards the employed driver, including an independent contractor, involving information from ELD, when the motor carrier is either aware or should have been aware that the actions thus were taken are in violation with Hours of Service (HOS) rules.

To make harassment rules and other related procedures easier for drivers, Matrack Incorporation has created this guide. In this informative guide to ELD rule and driver harassment, we will discuss the following:

  • Regulations specified under 49 CFR 395
  • Regulations specified under 49 CFR 392.3
  • What can be considered harassment?
  • Coercion
  • Difference between driver harassment and coercion
  • How ELD prevents harassment
  • Procedure for reporting harassment
  • Penalties

Before we can understand where and how the driver harassment can take place, it is important to know the regulations under 49 CFR 395 and 49 CFR 392.3. A motor carrier cannot ask its employed or contractual driver to violate any of these regulations but is required to ensure that all its employees follow them diligently. It is the duty of the carrier to be well-versed in these regulations, cannot use ignorance as an excuse to harass or coerce a driver.

49 CFR 395

The U.S Code of Federal Regulations defines the rules related to the driver’s hours of service (HOS) under 49 CFR Part 395. It clearly mentions that the rules under 395 are applicable to all motor carriers and drivers, except for certain exceptions like a short haul, adverse driving conditions, agricultural operations, and more. The regulation has several sections, however we will be discussing only those that are more likely to be violated.

Who does it apply to:

  • All motor carriers and drivers except:
  • Adverse and emergency driving conditions
  • Driver-salesperson with less than 40 hours of drive time in 7 consecutive days
  • Oilfield operations
  • Short-haul operations
  • Retail store deliveries
  • Sleeper Berths
  • State of Alaska
  • State of Hawaii
  • Travel time (driver traveling as instructed by the motor carrier but not driving)
  • Agricultural operations
  • Ground Water drilling operation
  • Construction materials and equipment
  • Utility Service vehicles
  • Property-carrying driver
  • Commercial Motor Vehicle transportation to or from a motion picture production site
  • Attendance on commercial motor vehicles containing explosives
  • Railroad Signal Employees

On-duty time: On-duty time refers to the time a driver begins work until he/she is relieved. Driving time includes:

  • Time spent waiting to be dispatched at a plant, terminal, facility or any other property of the motor carrier or the shipper.
  • Time is taken to inspect, service or condition a CMV
  • Time spent resting in/on a parked vehicle, sleeper berth, riding in the passenger seat of a property carrying vehicle up to 2 hours
  • Time spent in loading and unloading
  • Time spent in repairing a disabled CMV
  • Time spent giving a breath or urine sample
  • Performing any other work for the motor carrier

The driving time: Motor carriers are required to ensure that the drivers drive with proper rest breaks as specified:

  • A driver can start a work shift only after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • A driver may drive only during 14 consecutive hour period after taking the necessary 10 consecutive hour rest
  • A driver can drive for only 11 hours during the 14 consecutive hour period and must take at least 30 mins break/sleeper berth, after having driven for 8 consecutive hours.
  • A driver cannot drive after being on duty for 60/70 hours in any period of 7/8 consecutive days
  • After working for 7/8 consecutive days, a driver must take 34 hours off duty period which must include two periods from 1:00 am to 5:00am.

Record of duty status (RODS): All drivers driving a commercial motor vehicle are required to keep a record of duty status through FMCSA compliant ELD, and in some cases, through AOBRD. The driver who is exempt from ELD rule is required to maintain RODS manually.

What information does ELD record automatically? The electronic logging device can record data automatically, which makes the data more accurate and authentic. It can record data regarding date, time, CMV geographic location information, Engine hours, vehicle miles, driver or authenticated user identification information, motor carrier identification data, and more. Also, any changes or edits to the data are recorded as annotations, which ensures that the edits are made only by authorized employees.

Motor Carrier responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the motor carrier to ensure that all the commercial motor vehicles in the fleet are equipped with ELD, and all drivers are trained in the proper use of the same. Also, the motor carrier must manage separate accounts for authorized ELD users and properly define the scope of their authority in regards to use of the ELD. A driver has right to access his/her own ELD records, and a motor carrier must allow it.

“Every motor carrier has information of the driver through ELD, and must retain them in compliance with FMCSA guidelines to protect the privacy of the driver.”

Driver responsibilities: Whenever an ELD prompts, a driver is required to provide the information needed. He/she is also required to input the correct information regarding duty status and nature of breaks. When asked by the safety officer, a driver is required to produce and transfer data from ELD in accordance with the instruction sheet provided by the motor carrier.

49 CFR 392.3

According to the 49 CFR 392.3, no driver must drive a commercial motor vehicle when his/her driving ability is impaired due to illness, fatigue or any other reason that would make it unsafe for him/her to drive. It is also the responsibility of both driver and the motor carrier to ensure that a driver is completely fit to drive.

What can be considered harassment?

In research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in early 2014, about 600 drivers and 800 carriers were asked to participate in a survey. The survey included a list of 14 interactions between the drivers and the carriers, and they were required to rate the interactions on the following points:

  1. Number of times such interactions occurred during a month.
  2. The drivers were asked if they identified these interactions as harassment.
  3. The drivers and motor carriers who used ELD were asked if they thought the cause of harassment was a result of the complicated logging system of HOS.
  4. If the interactions were positive or negative.

Here are some of the interactions that were included in the survey:

  • While a driver is taking his/her mandatory 10 consecutive hour break before the start of a new work shift, a motor carrier cannot interrupt the same and engage them in some other work.
  • A motor carrier cannot ask a driver to change or verify the changes made in the duty logs by the motor carrier to manipulate the data.
  • We know that a driver has 14 consecutive hours to drive, of which the actual driving time should not be more than 11 hours. And after driving for 8 consecutive hours, a driver is required to take 30 minutes break. A motor carrier cannot ask the driver to delay this or any other breaks that he/she has to mandatorily take.
  • ELD logs can be edited by authorized users. However. Driver logs can be edited by driver and the motor carrier. When a motor carrier edits logs, a verification of the same is required from the driver, who can either accept or refuse the changes. Hence, a motor carrier cannot ask driver to either make changes to the logs or accept unwarranted changes.
  • There are certain regulations to speed limits that a driver has to follow. Based on the tie travelled and speed limit maintained, a driver can only cover a certain distance. A motor carrier cannot ask the driver to reach the destination of shipper or report to the workplace at an unrealistic time that would either need the driver to violate hours of service rule or require unsafe driving.
  • While waiting for loading or unloading, a driver cannot be made to wait for more than 2 hours without being paid. In case a delay from the customer causes driver to wait for more than 2 hours, the motor carrier cannot ask driver to pay for any damages thus caused.

As a result of the survey, it was found that many drivers did not recognize the above interactions as harassment, even when they did face the interactions regularly. Also, less than 3% drivers associated the harassment with HOS logging in ELD.

You can read more about the research here.


The FMCSA adopted the Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers, also known as the Coercion Rule and brought it into effect on 29th January 2016. According to the rule, when a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary threatens the driver to withhold work, fire, or punish the driver in any other way for refusing to deliberately violate rules as laid down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs), and the Federal Motor Carrier Commercial Regulations (FMCCRs).

For coercion to occur, it is not necessary that any provision is violated. Coercion can occur if the driver has been fired, not given work, or reprimanded for refusal to violate. For coercion, these three things are important:

  • Driver is requested by motor carrier, shipper, receiver or any other transportation authority to carry out a task that breaks or goes against the provisions of FMCSA, HMRs or FMCCRs.
  • Driver informs them that the request made will violate the rules of hours of service or result in unsafe driving.
  • Driver is threatened with unfavorable employment conditions, termination of employment, or any other punishment for not going through with the request

The difference between driver harassment and coercion:

The major difference between harassment and coercion is the nature and scope of violations. 

  • Harassment occurs when a driver takes an action on the insistence of motor carrier that violates the rules of Hours of Service.
  • The action taken by the driver on request of the motor carrier must be related to electronic logging device.
  •  Coercion occurs when the driver refuses to instructions given by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary that potentially violate the provisions of FMCSA, HMRs, and FMCCRs, and is threatened.
  • Coercion does not require that the driver accepts the request. If he/she is threatened with the loss of a job, or any other unfavorable working condition, it will be deemed as coercion.

Coercion has a broader scope than harassment. The act of threatening a driver for refusal to break any regulation is considered coercion. It does not necessarily require the driver to actually violate a law. However, harassment is when the driver does violate a provision of HOS as instructed by the motor carrier.

How ELD prevents harassment?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration explicitly prohibit a motor carrier to instruct its employed or contractual driver to take an action in connection with ELD that can violate the rules of Hours of Service. There are other technical provisions that ELD offers to prevent harassment:

  • The electronic logging device comes with a “mute ” function, which can be used by the drivers while taking a break or sleeper berth time. The function does not allow the driver to be interrupted during break time. This feature helps the driver in taking the required rest before getting back on duty, and also assures that the motor carrier cannot instruct the driver to cut short the break or disturb them in any other way.
  • ELD devices record most data automatically. However, the data thus recorded can be changed. Edits to the recorded data can be made by an authorized users, along with the reason for edits known as annotations. Also, the original data recorded by the ELD is retained, so that all edits made have electronic proof.
  • When a motor carrier makes changes to the ELD data, it needs to be verified by the driver. The driver can either accept or refuse the edits made. With the help of edits and annotations feature, a driver is protected from any changes made to the logs by other authorized users.

ELDs allow only a limited amount of data to be edited and to record every edit made to the data. In case a driver is being harassed, the record from ELD can be submitted as evidence of the same.

Procedure for filing a harassment complaint:

The FMCSA has laid down the following provisions for harassment complaints related to ELD:

  • Once the driver has established the occurrence of harassment, a written complaint must be filed with the National Consumer Complaint Database here.
  • Alternatively, a driver can also file a written complaint with the FMCSA Division Administrator for the State in which the driver is employed. You can find the list of Division Administrator here.
  • The application must contain information on
  1. Driver’s name, address, and contact information;
  2. Name and address of the motor carrier that allegedly harassed the driver;
  3. Explanation of how ELD or related technology was part of harassment;
  4. Date of the alleged harassment;
  5. How the action taken by the motor carrier was in violation of either 49 CFR 392.3 or 49 CFR 395; and
  6. Driver’s signature.
  • Any evidence of the action that can assist FMCSA in investigating the complaint.
  • Before filing for harassment complaint, the driver must go through the provisions laid down by the FMCSA and Department of Labor’s whistleblower law regarding coercion.
  • A driver must file a written complaint of harassment within 90 days of the alleged action.

Penalties for driver harassment:

As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, if a motor carrier is found to have harassed a driver in connection with ELD or related technology, a civil penalty for harassment as well as a separate penalty for violation of hours of service rules can be levied on the motor carrier.

To sum it up, the ELD rule and technology offer various ways to safeguard a driver’s interest against harassment and coercion. It also ensures that drivers and motor carriers are in complete compliance with regulations of FMCSA and HOS making the work environment safer for the drivers and other employees.

Drivers and motor carriers must, therefore, opt for an ELD that is FMCSA certified as well as compliant. Matrack Incorporation has exactly the ELD you need. We have over a decade of experience in providing ELD, tracking and comprehensive fleet management services across the country. For any information related to ELD, or to know more about our services, get in touch with us now!