ELD Mandate FAQs – RODS Requirements, Exemptions, and Agricultural Trucks

As the deadline looms for the ELD Mandate, many fleets still seek answers to common questions. Here are a few questions and answers to help.

Will my RODS requirements change after the ELD Mandate goes into force?
Keep this one key fact to keep in mind: Nothing has changed about which drivers must keep a Record of Duty Status (RODS) in a log.

The ELD Mandate only specifies the tools used to keep the log. If the regulation you were using before ELD was exempt from RODS , it will still be exempt after the ELD.

If I’ve never needed a paper log, do I need an ELD?
The short answer is no. Some operations of commercial motor vehicles are not subject to the same logging requirements as trucks in interstate commerce. Under the ELD rule, drivers who use the Short Haul exemption with time cards are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs. There are other exceptions as well.

Exempt regulations mean you do not have to keep a full RODS. But you still must record basic information to show compliance with the Hours of Service regulations.

Keep in mind that exempt drivers are never allowed to drive more than 11 hours, nor are they allowed to drive after having been on duty for the specified amount depending on the exemption.
In exempt regulations, drivers still must maintain a record of:

  • The time they go on duty
  • The total number of hours they are on duty
  • The time they go off duty
  • The location where they came on duty and went off duty

If a situation arises that nullifies even one of the qualifications, then all of the standard hours of service rules apply. This record can be a paper record; an ELD is not required.

There are two main groups of exemptions:

  1. CDL drivers who operate within 100 air miles (direct radius, not road miles) of their daily starting location, stay on duty 12 hours or less, have at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before going back on duty, and report to the same location to work every day.
  2. Non-CDL drivers who operate within 150 air-miles of their daily starting location, do not drive through a state that requires a CDL for the type of vehicle being driven, report back to the same work location every day, and do not drive after the 14th hour of coming on duty in a period of seven consecutive days.

What are the HOS rules for agricultural/farm trucks?
The HOS regulations don’t apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating completely within the 150-air mile radius. That means work and driving hours are not limited and the driver is also not required to use an ELD.

A driver transporting agricultural commodities is not required to use an ELD if they do not operate outside of the 150 air-mile radius for more than 8 days during any 30-day period. Other potential exemptions are if the vehicle was manufactured before the model year 2000, provided they prepare paper logs on the days when they are not exempt from the HOS rules.

Under the agricultural exemption, the duty status of the driver may be noted as either off-duty (with appropriate annotation), or “exempt.”

Each state can determine the planting and harvesting periods during which exemptions apply for transportation of agricultural commodities (including livestock, bees and other commodities) within a 150-air mile radius from the source of the commodities. The same provision applies to the delivery of supplies and equipment for agricultural use from a wholesale or retail distribution point.

Any time a driver operates beyond the 150-air mile radius, the HOS regulations apply. When the transporter goes past the 150-air mile radius, the driver must maintain logs using an ELD, unless the driver or the vehicle meets one of the limited ELD exemptions. The driver must work and drive within the limitations of the HOS rules when operating beyond the 150-air mile radius. However, time spent working within the 150 air-mile radius does not count toward the driver’s daily and weekly limits.

When operating within the 150 air-mile radius the driver should not log into the ELD. Upon exiting the radius, the driver should then log into the ELD, and annotate that any unassigned miles accumulated prior to that point were exempt miles.

When drivers share vehicle(s) equipped with ELDs, a driver that is always exempt can use an “Exempt Driver” account.

Also, covered farm vehicles are exempted from the HOS regulations and are not required to have an ELD. This includes private transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock.

If a driver delivers an agricultural load outside the 150 air-mile radius and then picks up a non-agricultural load for a backhaul, the driver must use an ELD when hauling that load.

How do I track exempt and non-exempt Hours of Service?
Keep in mind that the only drivers exempt from the ELD Mandate are those with vehicles from 2000 or earlier, those who keep records of duty (ROD) status for eight days or less within a 30-day working period or those who operate tow-away or drive-away services.

When drivers share vehicle(s) equipped with ELDs, a driver that is always exempt can use an “Exempt Driver” account. For instance, moving trucks in a yard or to a nearby fueling dock is typically an exempt activity.

When a driver moves between exempt and non-exempt service, that mileage still must be recorded using the Non-exempt and Exempt Driver designations in the ELD.

The ELD rule prohibits multiple driver accounts for one driver. The motor carrier must proactively change the driver’s status to and from exempt and non-exempt.

Ultimately, the goal is, when you are required to have an ELD, can you establish compliance with the hours of service regulations? If you can do that, then you’re following the rules in a way that enforcement officers should be able to follow.