* This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consult your attorney for advice specific to your own circumstances.
Information on the
Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule
from the Government and Industry Relations Committee
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the electronic logging device (ELD) rule (pdf) — congressionally mandated as a part of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) — is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.
Our members have been asking questions about how the ELD Rule applies to them, since the rule becomes effective December 18, 2017. This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on several variables, including your individual business situation, how far and how often you transport animals, and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of your vehicle and trailer.
It appears that the FMCSA has granted a limited 90-day waiver from the Federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations pertaining to ELDs for the transportation of agricultural commodities. (Reference link: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/limited-90-day-waiver-transportation-agricultural-commodities)
The FMCSA has also published the following list of Hours of Service and Agricultural Exemptions (Reference link: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/eld-hours-service-hos-and-agriculture-exemptions):
- 49 CFR 395.1(k) provides exceptions from the HOS rules, during planting and harvesting periods as determined by the State, for the 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.
- The HOS regulations do not apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating completely within the 150 air-mile radius by for hire or private carriers. Therefore, work and driving hours are not limited and the driver is also not required to use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD). In an operation where drivers share vehicle(s) equipped with ELDs, a driver that is always exempt can use an “Exempt Driver” account.
- Once a driver operates beyond the 150 air-mile radius, the HOS regulations apply. Therefore, starting at the time and location where 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. 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 that radius, the driver should then log into the ELD, and annotate that any unassigned miles accumulated prior to that point were exempt miles.
- Drivers transporting agricultural commodities are not required to use an ELD if the vehicle was manufactured before the model year 2000, provided they prepare paper logs, or if they do not operate outside of the 150 air-mile radius for more than 8 days during any 30-day period, provided they prepare paper logs on the days when they are not exempt from the HOS rules.
- Covered farm vehicles, as defined in 49 CFR 390.5, are exempted from the HOS regulations per 49 CFR 395.1(s). Carriers operating under this exemption are also not required to have an ELD. This only applies to private transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock by the owner or operator of a farm or ranch, or family members or employees.
Per FMCSA, you are required to obtain a USDOT number if you have a vehicle that 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 AND is involved in interstate commerce. Apart from federal regulations, some states require their intrastate commercial motor vehicle registrants to obtain a USDOT Number. There is a list of states that require a USDOT number and good interactive tool to find out if you need a USDOT number at the following link: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/do-i-need-usdot-number.
Again, whether or how the ELD rule applies to you depends on your individual circumstances. It is suggested that you refer to the following link: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices to read more about this rule, and the page on Frequently Asked Questions is also very informative.
Other livestock organizations are working with the government to try to modify the regulations so that animals can be transported in a manner that is not detrimental to the health of the animals. Here is a link to the American Quarter Horse Association article: https://www.aqha.com/news/2017/december/12042017-eld-statement. We will monitor the situation and update you as we become aware of new information.