Rule changes in the trucking and transportation industry are nothing new—in fact, there are 15 to 20 new regulations every year. However, December 18, 2017 is the compliance deadline for the Electronic Logging Device installation requirement.
The ELD requirement may not apply to agricultural businesses under these exceptions:
- Using the agricultural exemption §395.1(k)
- Operating “Covered farm vehicles” §395.1(s)
- Operating under one of the short-haul exceptions at §395.1(e)
- Drivers operating vehicles older than model year 2000
At the 2017 National Health and Safety School hosted at the Asmark Institute in Bloomington, Ill., industry consultant Tom Bray with J.J. Keller and Associates explained this isn’t changing the core rules.
“If you’ve operated within an ag exception to date, there’s no change,” he explains. “But if your drivers are doing logs now, you’ll be switching to elogs.”
Compliance will be required for all commercial motor vehicles that are part of interstate commerce. Bray notes that drivers limited to intrastate activity will have to follow state guidelines.
“And even if you think you are exempt from regulations, it’s important that you and your drivers fully understand the regulations and why you are indeed exempt. There are risks to operating under the assumption of exemption, particularly with liability,” Bray says.
The Agricultural Retailers Association has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to delay implementation of Electronic Logging Device rules. With this request they join other industry groups such as the National Corn Growers Association, National Grain and Feed Association, U.S. Cattleman's Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
"ARA is concerned that many agribusinesses are not, and will not be fully prepared to meet the December 18, 2017, compliance deadline," says Richard Gupton, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel for ARA. "Moreover, ELD manufacturers may not be able to accommodate existing Hours of Service exemptions currently being utilized by agricultural retailers and distributors."
Devices installed before December 18, 2017 can be Automatic On-board Recording Devices (AOBRD) or ELD. But after December 2019, all AOBRD must be converted to ELD.
Regarding the exemption of vehicles older than model year 2000, that is because those vehicles weren’t outfitted with an ECM that a ELD can interface with. For those who may have purchased a glider kit, you have to prove the engine is 1999 or older by its engine serial number. And Bray advises in that case, you carry documentation with the truck.
A Virginia Tech study showed a 53% reduction in driving-related violations; 49% reduction in non-driving relation violations and a 12% drop in total crash rates.
Bray also says to consider if some of your drivers and fleet will be using ELDs, it may be easier to switch everyone.
“Having employees using paper logs, ELDs, and other exemptions can create an administrative nightmare,” Bray says.