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Frequently Asked Questions on the ELD Mandate

ELD Exemptions: Frequently Asked Questions on the ELD Mandate

Who is exempt from the electronic logging device (ELD) rule? Many people have been asking questions about ELD exemptions ever since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the ELD mandate for carriers and drivers. Electronic logging devices, also known as ELDs or e-logs, are devices that automatically record drive time and hours of service (HOS) for drivers.

In this post, we’ll walk through the different types of exceptions. Understanding the difference can save you from making a costly mistake.

Who Does the ELD Rule Impact?

First, let’s take a look at who is impacted. The ELD rule applies to commercial motor vehicles. As defined by the FMCSA regulations §390.5, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is “any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle—

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
  2. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
  3. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  4. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.”

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you operate a tow truck, dump truck, garbage truck, or a cement mixer — if your vehicle meets one of the criteria above, and you are performing work as part of your job, you may be affected by the mandate.

dump truck garbage truck cement mixer heavy truck eld exemptions

Related: What is an ELD?

Who Is Exempt? Overview of ELD Exemptions

Here is the official list of ELD mandate exceptions from the FMCSA’s website:  

  • Drivers using paper RODS no more than 8 days out of every 30 day period.
  • Driveaway-towaway drivers who transport empty vehicles intended for sale, lease, or repair, as long as the vehicle they are driving is part of the shipment.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

It’s important to note that if drivers are not required to use ELDs, they are not fully exempt from the regulations. They must still record their duty status manually (on paper) according to 49 CFR 395.

Let’s dive into some further questions:

What is the Short-Haul / 100 Air-Mile Radius Exception?

There are a number of requirements to qualify for the short-haul exception from §395.1(e):

  • Operate within a 100/150 air-mile radius of the normal work-reporting location (100 air-miles if you are a commercial driver’s license (CDL) driver and 150 air-miles for drivers without a CDL).
  • Start and return to the same location.
  • 12 consecutive hours of duty time.

An air mile equals 115.08 statute miles (185.2 kilometres), according to FMCSA regulations. It is based on the international nautical mile which is 6,076 feet (1,852 meters).

These additional rules also apply to short-haul drivers:

  • Drive time cannot exceed 11 hours.
  • Must log a minimum of 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time after shift.

If the driver cannot meet these conditions, they will have to complete a logbook for the day as the vehicle is considered a CMV.

The vehicle and trailer are also subject to vehicle inspection as per §396.11 and §396.13 if they collectively meet the criteria of a CMV. A DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report) will need to be filled, and stored. The next time the vehicle and/or trailer is used, the previous Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) must be reviewed prior to operation.

You must store the log records, and the inspection report records, and present it both to law enforcement as well as in the time of a carrier audit.

Does the Pre-2000 Exemption Apply to Model Year or Date of Manufacture?

When the ELD mandate was first released, there was discussion in the media about whether an exception for pre-2000 vehicles referred to model year or date of manufacture. On their website, the FMCSA clarifies that the exception applies to the vehicle’s engine model year. Quoting from the FMCSA, “If the engine model year is older than 2000, the driver is not subject to the ELD rule.”

Is it possible to gain an exemption by using a glider kit (new cab and chassis) with an older engine and vehicle components? Yes, the FMCSA states that the model year on the engine can be used to determine if the driver is exempt from the ELD requirements.

Motor carriers must maintain all documentation on motor and engine changes at their principle place of business, but the driver is not required to carry documentation confirming the vehicle engine model year. However, even though it’s not mandatory for the driver to possess the documentation, it would be a good idea to have it in the event of roadside inspection.

Do Small Carriers Need to Comply with the ELD Rule?

Two surveys last year showed that small carriers are more reluctant to make the move to ELDs. A Transplace survey of more than 400 carriers found that only 33% of small fleets (with less than 250 trucks) had fully installed ELDs, while 38% had “no immediate plans to begin implementation.”

In Land Line magazine, Tyson Fisher reports on a TruckStop.com survey of over 1,000 trucking operators (majority of those owning one to five trucks) which found that 84% had not yet purchased or installed an electronic logging device.

Again, carriers and drivers who are required to maintain RODS, and do not fall under any of the above exceptions, are subject to the ELD rule.

Could a Pickup Truck or Small Vehicle Qualify as a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

The answer to this question on ELD exemptions is related to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR).

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) Vs. Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR):
GVWR is defined as the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as set by the manufacturer including the vehicle itself (chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel and accessories), including the weight of the driver, passengers, and cargo. GCWR is the manufacturer’s specified maximum weight for a vehicle that is towing a trailer (includes the weight of the vehicle, driver, passengers and cargo, plus the attached trailer with load).

Vehicles are often specialized to deliver different types of goods. Semi-trailers can be outfitted with various trailers such as box trailers, flatbeds, car carriers, tanks, and other specialized trailers. Dump trucks and concrete mixers are examples of vehicles specialized for delivery of specific types of goods.

If the GVWR/GCWR of the truck, load, and any trailer (inclusive of load) you are transporting at any point in time exceeds the 10,001 pounds or greater definition of CMV found in §390.5, it will become a CMV. That vehicle would be regulated empty or loaded.

When you find your vehicle, even if it’s a pickup, is now classified as a CMV, the driver of the vehicle must comply with the hours of service regulations. During the time you meet the criteria of a CMV, you need to obey all regulations, which may include stopping at roadside inspection stations or having U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) markings on the side of the truck.

ELD Compliance Brings Benefits to Motor Carriers

The first compliance deadline is quickly approaching. Carriers and drivers currently using paper logs (or logging software) must switch to ELDs by December 18, 2017. The time to research ELD compliance solutions is now. Adopting ELDs offer so many benefits, such as driver safety and fuel usage monitoring, to name two. Not complying with the rule is just not worth the risk.

Related Posts:
E-Logs: New Opportunities for Trucking
e-logs electronic logging devices for trucking

IFTA Reporting and the ELD Mandate

Remote Diagnostics for Commercial Trucks
remote diagnostics commercial trucks


  • Our video production company owns one truck. But due to weight guidelines, we are subject to log books, vehicle inspections, DOT & UCR registrations, etc. We also occasionally rent trucks from Ryder, Penske, and the like, when we are contracted at multiple shows, on the same dates. Not being anything close to a trucking company, it is incredibly hard to determine what rules effect us and reading official guidelines, has left me more confused, then educated. Who can we turn to, to give all details of our operations and advise us properly? We transport large video screens and camera equipment, to events in a 5 state area or so and after shows are done, always return, with our equipment, to our shop. Can you direct me or advise?

  • Posted October 1, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    hello, maybe we miss out but what about the carrier or companies with one truck? with is my for example, 2002 truck?thx you

    • Posted October 4, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      There isn’t an exemption for carriers or companies with one truck. You are subject to the ELD mandate, unless you qualify for one of the exemptions mentioned in the blog post. To confirm for certain whether you fall under the ELD mandate, we recommend to please contact the FMCSA directly.

  • Posted September 27, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I believe your statement on glider kits is incorrect.
    Based on the FMCSA ELD FAQ which you link to in the question, glider kits ARE exempt from ELD requirements if the engine is pre-2000. For confirmation of this, please see https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/faq/if-vehicle-registration-commercial-motor-vehicle-reflects-model-year-2000-or-newer-b-0

    • Posted September 29, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. We have updated the article.

  • Posted September 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    My drivers meet the short haul exemption, but they haul hazmat (fuel, etc.) Are they still exempt, or are ELD’s required since they haul hazmat?

    • Posted September 29, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the question. Vehicles transporting hazardous materials are not exempt from the ELD rule. At this time, our system does not directly support the Hazmat exemption for breaks, but we will be including this in the near future. Currently, existing users can change their ruleset when operating under the hazmat exemption to No HOS Ruleset and apply the ON duty status. The logs in this duration can be annotated to show that the Hazmat exemption was applied.

  • Posted September 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    We have 5 vehicles which transport damaged vehicles from various auctions through-out New England and Long Island N.Y.
    All our trips are within 150 miles one way and the drivers are back home each and every day.
    Might we be exempt from the ELD Rule?

    • Posted September 6, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Hello Tony,
      I believe you are talking about the 150 air-mile radius exemption for non-CDL drivers. The requirements to qualify for this exemption are your drivers must drive a truck that is a “commercial motor vehicle” but does not require a CDL, and work within a 150 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location and return there each day.

      If you meet the criteria for using the non-CDL short-haul exception:
      • You must not drive for more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty;
      • You must not drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty 5 days in any period of 7 consecutive days; and
      • You must not drive past the 16th hour after coming on duty 2 days in any period of 7 consecutive days.
      • You must not drive after being on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days (unless you took 34 consecutive hours off to restart a 7/8-day period that meets the conditions listed above).

      If they meet these requirements, then they do not need to log hours of service (although they will need to keep time records showing time in, time out, and total number of hours). Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like you may be exempt from equipping your vehicles with an ELD. Just remember that if you have a driver who meets the requirement to log hours of service on a paper log 8 days or more in a rolling 30 day period, then you must equip your vehicle with an ELD.
      Vik Sridhar, Solutions Engineer, HOS Expert

  • Posted August 28, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    If I read the exemptions correctly, if the vehicle is registered as a tow truck, towing companies are exempt regardless of the weight?

    • Posted September 1, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the question Jerry.
      In order to qualify for the drive-away tow-away operation exemption, the vehicle being driven must be 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. If you don’t meet these requirements, then you will not be exempt.
      Vik Sridhar, Solutions Engineer, HOS Expert

      • Posted September 8, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        Okay, just so that I understood this correctly, I want to hear it in layman’s terms. I haul recreational camper trailers for a living. I tow them on my bumper or fifth wheel on my pick up truck, and never more than one trailer at a time. The wheels of the recreational camper trailer are always on the pavement.
        Am I exempt from using an ELD?

        • Posted September 29, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          If you are operating in Ontario, there is a list of exemptions to hours of service which you can find here: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/trucks/handbook/section1-7-2.shtml. Please review this information. If you don’t meet one of these conditions, then you will have to log hours of service. Do you operate in the US or Canada? Please keep in mind, at this time, only the U.S. has an ELD mandate.

  • Posted August 28, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Have you heard anything on the Small carrier extension?

    • Posted September 1, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Hi Andrea,
      We do not expect a delay in the ELD mandate for small carriers. Please do not wait. We highly recommend you begin evaluating ELD solutions as soon as possible, so that you’re ready when December 18th arrives.
      Vik Sridhar, Solutions Engineer, HOS Expert

  • Posted July 19, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Are milk haulers or any agricultural hauler exempt

    • Posted September 6, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Currently our trucks are running “Ag Exempt” on log books. Will we have to log hours on the ELD system, or how would we change that on the the ELD system? Could someone clarify how this will work for “Ag Exempt” drivers? Thanks

      • Posted September 29, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        At this time, our system does not directly support the Agriculture exemption, but we will including this in the near future. Currently, existing users can change their ruleset when conducting agricultural operations to the No HOS Ruleset as long as the driver does not exceed the 150 mile radius. Logs created while applying that exemption can be annotated by the driver to reflect that the Ag exemption was applied.

  • Posted June 15, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    We have drivers that could need to use the EDL only once or twice a year. Can they do this and revert to short haul forms the rest of the time?

  • Posted May 26, 2017 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    I am wondering how the ELDs work for a small business. I have 4 trucks and wondering if I would have to put the ELDs in them. I have been told that as long as I have under 10 trucks I don’t have to worry about the ELDs that I can still use the paper logs but I have also been told that if I have more than 2 trucks I need to install the ELDs so I was wondering how that worked. I am only a small start up company and trying to make sure that I am in compliance because I have heard so many different things and each site is saying different things.

    • Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tiffany,
      The FMCSA regulations indicates everyone must become ELD-compliant with the following three exceptions:
      *Driveaway-towaway operations are not required to use an ELD, provided the vehicle driven is part of the shipment
      *ELD are not required on CMVs older than model year 2000
      *Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days during any 30 day period.
      An important fact to remember is that the regulations have not changed, only the method of recording them. You can find additional information on the FMCSA’s website. Look for Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
      Robin Kinsey, HOS/ELD Training Specialist

  • Posted April 20, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    We are a small company. one that does a lot of work out of town. We are not a trucking company but we do haul our own equipment. Now there is very seldom a day where a driver will be in a truck more than 2 days. Now these trucks ( some are actually pickups that with a trailer become a CMV ) are also used at home where we would fall under that 100 mile radius. So how do you use an ELD once in awhile? The pickups may leave town as a CMV but once they get where they are going and drop a trailer they are below the weight. I am very confused as to how this is going to work for a small company such as ourselves that is not a trucking company.

    • Posted April 28, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi Terri,
      That’s a great question. ELDs will be required if the driver meets the requirements to log on paper 8 days or more in a rolling 30 day period. Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like you might very occasionally meet the requirements to log, but doesn’t look like it would be greater than 8 days in a rolling 30 day period. You will still need to log a paper log for those days where you meet the requirements, but may not need an ELD. You can find more information on the ELD Mandate and a link to the FMCSA’s website in this post: https://www.geotab.com/blog/quick-guide-fmcsa-eld-mandate/
      Vik Sridhar, Solutions Engineer, HOS Expert

  • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m so glad that you included information about who the ELD rule will impact. It is so important to keep track of what limitations you may have on the road! Especially if you handle project deliverables that are time sensitive, you don’t want to get held up!

    • Posted April 28, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment Dennis. We agree!

  • Posted March 28, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    How do ELD’s apply to recovery vehicles (wrecker trucks)?

    • Posted April 5, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      If the vehicle meets the requirements for the definition of a CMV as outlined in the blog post, and the driver operating the vehicle meets the requirements to log 8 days or more in a 30 day period, the ELD rule will be applicable to these vehicles.
      Vik Sridhar, Solutions Engineer, HOS Expert

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