ELD Mandate, Exemptions, and You

ELD Rule

With just months remaining before the ELD rule becomes mandatory, do you have the information you need to succeed?

In this, the first of a three-part question and answer series, Truckstop.com Director of Industry Relations Susan Collins talks with Thomas E. Bray, lead transportation editor for J.J. Keller & Associates Inc., concerning the impending ELD rule, which becomes mandatory in December.

Who specifically can get away with NOT using an ELD once the deadline arrives on December 18, 2017?
There are presently only four exemptions to the ELD mandate, and they are:

  1. Drivers that only had to use a paper log 8 days or fewer in the last 30 days. This exception would apply to short-haul drivers that normally use a time record in place of a log, and intermittent and casual drivers who only have to use a paper log a few days a month. If the driver needs to log the 9th time in the last 30 days, the driver would need to use an ELD the 9th day.
  2. Drivers that are driving a vehicle that is part of a driveaway/towaway shipment. These drivers will be allowed to continue using paper logs, rather than an electronic log.
  3. Drivers that are driving or towing a recreational vehicle that is part of a driveaway/towaway shipment. These drivers will be allowed to continue using paper logs as well.
  4. Drivers operating a vehicle that is older than model year 2000, based on the VIN on the registration. The model year is coded into the 10th digit of the VIN.

A common additional question in this area is, “What if the vehicle is a glider kit and the donor vehicle was a pre-2000 vehicle?”
It will depend on what VIN the state titling agency assigned to the vehicle. If the 10th digit indicates the vehicle is model year 2000 or newer, it will need an electronic log in it, if the driver is required to use one.

What happens if a driver gets into a vehicle that has an electronic logging device one day, and then the next day gets into one that does not (due to being exempt, such as being older than model year 2000)?
The driver, when on the road and during a roadside inspection, will need to have a combination of records covering the current day and the previous seven days. The driver would have to have records from the electronic system for the days the driver was using the electronic logging system, and paper logs for the days the driver was not using the electronic logging system. In the back office, the same is true. The company must have a record for each day. These would be electronic records for the days the driver was using the electronic logging system, and paper logs for the days the driver was using paper logs. Operationally, it is a good idea to enter the data from the driver’s paper logs into the electronic logging system, using the “edit” function, when the driver changes from paper to electronic, so the electronic system can be accurate.

We do not own our vehicles; we lease or rent them (either leased owner-operators or from a leasing or rental company). Who is responsible for making sure the vehicle has an electronic log in it if the driver must be using one?
As the responsibility for complying with the hours-of-service regulation is assigned to the carrier, it is the carrier’s responsibility. It is up to the carrier to work with whoever is providing the vehicle to make sure the vehicle has an electronic log in it if the driver is required to use one. There are two primary ways this is done. First, the equipment provider installs the device and sees that the data is provided to the carrier. Second, the equipment provider allows the carrier to install the electronic log when taking control of the vehicle.

What “allowances,” or changes to the limits or other rules are being provided to deal with the accuracy of electronic logs?
Officially, none. The limits are still the limits, the break requirements are still the break requirements, and drivers must comply with them. However, enforcement will be allowed (not required) to write up a violation of less than 15 minutes as a “nominal” hours-of-service violation. This type of violation has lesser consequences than violations written up as “regular” hours-of-service violations. Just a warning here: This is up to the officer, and is not required. If the officer sees this type of a violation occurring regularly, or feels that the driver could have stopped at a safe location for the break, and voluntarily went past the limit, the officer can still cite the violation as a regular violation rather than a nominal one.

There are two deadlines, which one “matters to me?”
They both do. The first one, December 18, 2017, is the date that drivers that currently use paper logs must be using a compliant electronic logging system (if one of the four exceptions does not apply). The device can be either an automatic onboard recording device (“AOBRD,” the devices that are being sold and placed into service today are AOBRDs) or an electronic logging device (“ELD,” the “next generation” of electronic log that are starting to become available). The other thing that happens as of December 18, 2017, is that any new electronic logging device placed into service must be an ELD that is on FMCSA’s ELD Registry (AOBRDs can no longer be placed into service). The second deadline, December 16, 2019, is the “sunset” date for AOBRDs that were placed into service before December 18, 2017. By December 16, 2019, any AOBRDs that are still in service must be updated to meet the ELD technical standards, or replaced if they cannot be updated.

Thomas E. Bray is the Lead Transportation Editor for J. J. Keller & Associates Inc. in Neenah, WI.