On December 16, 2015, the FMCSA published the electronic logging device (ELD) final rule. As a result, businesses operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce have until December 18, 2017, to comply with the ELD mandate, which requires the use of ELDs or AOBRDs by interstate drivers of commercial motor vehicles who are currently required to use records of duty status (also known simply as “logs”) to record their hours of service.
Fortunately, almost all trucking companies are well aware of the ELD mandate and are beginning to take action to be in compliance by the December 18 deadline.
However, there is some confusion about how it will affect small businesses. My goal today is to ease the confusion. It is important to note that small businesses are not exempt from this mandate. Therefore, small construction contractors, repair technicians, and lawn and garden services operating commercial vehicles across state lines need to be compliant.
For example, a Ford F-250 pulling a 5-ton trailer with a small skid steer, when involved in interstate commerce, is considered a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and can be subject to hours of service (HOS) rules as well. For the HOS mandate, commercial motor vehicles are defined as a vehicle that:
1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds; or
2. Is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver (8 or more if the company is receiving compensation for transporting passengers); or
3. Is used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding.
The ELD rule has four basic provisions. These provisions are:
A driver who operates a truck equipped with an ELD is not required to maintain a paper log, but is required to maintain supporting documentation. In addition, drivers must produce either the display or a printout of standardized ELD data when a law enforcement or safety official requests a physical display of the information. Companies must keep a maximum of eight documents from five categories (schedules, trip records, expense receipts, electronic mobile communications records, and payroll) per driver for each 24-hour period.
However, there are some exemptions that allow drivers to continue using paper logs. These include drivers who are:
1. Required to keep a logbook in 8 or fewer days out of every 30 working days, such as short-haul drivers using the 100 and 150 air mile exceptions.
2. In drive-away and tow-away operations.
3. Operating vehicles model year 1999 or older.
In addition, as many DOT-regulated small businesses primarily operate in a local area, many are able to utilize the 100/150 Air-Mile Radius Exemption, which allows them to use timecards instead of logbooks or ELDs.
A common question I am asked is “What is the 100/150 Air-Mile Exemption?”
An air mile is a nautical measurement of distance flown by aircraft that basically excludes any twists or turns. So, if you are traveling from point A to point b, the distance you would travel in a straight line to your destination, not the distance by road, is the number of air miles.
The 100 air-mile exemption applies to CDL drivers who:
The 150 air-mile exemption applies to non-CDL drivers who:
Any business whose drivers continue to qualify for the 100 and 150 air-mile exemption are exempt from the ELD mandate whether or not they cross state lines. If a driver who normally uses one of these exemptions can’t for one day, the driver must do a log for that day. Once the ELD rule goes into effect, if this happens more than 8 days in any 30-day period, the driver will need to start using an ELD. For more information on this exception, read my blog on this topic.
The FMCSA ELD mandate regulates interstate commerce. If your company operates CMVs within your state only, you are subject to your state’s intrastate regulations. Historically, many states have adopted federal interstate regulations for intrastate commerce. However, transportation specialists have their own opinions on what to expect with the ELD mandate. Ultimately, the final decision rests with your state, which may adopt the ELD rule in whole or in part as the state sees fit. If you are currently crossing state lines and operating under interstate rules, you are affected by the FMCSA rule, and your state’s intrastate rules will not apply to your interstate commerce operation.
If you need to select an ELD that is right for your company, doing your due diligence is important. Aside from freeing the driver to maintain paper logs, ELDs aggregate data, such as driver identification, date, miles, driving time, and on-duty hours, for compliance. However, industry-specific telematics solutions built for mixed fleets can provide data that goes much deeper. These capabilities not only fulfill the ELD requirements, but also offer unique industry-specific solutions, from tracking general freight to construction industries monitoring the health of the equipment itself.
As with all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, it is important to familiarize yourself with the requirements. It may seem like an unnecessary hassle for smaller companies that don’t travel long distances, but should your business experience a crash, audit, or roadside inspection and the FMCSA investigator finds you to be out of compliance, the liability and hassle that may ensue could be severe.