How to Use ELD Exemptions to Your Benefit

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If you own a commercial motor vehicle or a commercial fleet, you may want to consider your eligibility for the ELD exemption. The use of an ELD offers excellent benefits including compliance, lower insurance premiums, and less fuel waste. But for some drivers, a portable ELD can be challenging to install and costly to maintain compared to paper logs. We’ll discuss who is exempt from the ELD Mandate and the pros and cons of ELD use.

What is an ELD

ELD stands for an electronic logging device. An ELD is a mandatory part of commercial trucking. In December 2017, the FMCSA ruled that all commercial motor vehicles are required to use an ELD for hours of service (HOS) reporting. The technology captures crucial information about the vehicle and driver and stores it electronically. An approved ELD records the following information from the vehicle:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Motor Carrier Identification
  • Vehicle Identification
  • Mile Traveled
  • Geographic Location
  • Yard moves
  • Engine diagnostics and malfunction
  • Engine power up and shutdown
  • 60-minute intervals of motion

Also, the ELD will record information from the driver, which includes:

  • Driver log on and log off
  • Driver identification
  • Duty status changes
  • Hours of service
  • Personal use
  • Certification of driver’s daily record

The ELD is attached to the vehicle’s on-board computer and the information is transmitted into a telematics system. Fleet managers can check the Hours of Service statuses, monitor vehicle use, and run reports. The HOS data can then be accessed digitally in case of roadside inspection, or when a driver needs to refer to it.

How You Can Benefit from ELD Exemptions (Who is Exempt?)

Although most motor carriers and drivers need to have an ELD and maintain a Record of Duty Statuses, there are ELD exemptions that some drivers can take advantage of. The question is, who falls under the ELD exemptions category?

ELD Short Haul Exemptions

Commercial drivers who take short trips and return to the same location daily may be exempt from the ELD Mandate. Drivers must meet a few conditions to qualify:

  • Start and finish their workday at the same location
  • Travel only within 150 air-miles of their normal work location
  • Have at minimum 10 hours of off-duty in between their 12-hour shifts
  • Cannot drive over 14 hours
  • Must be released from work within 12 hours

If you have an ELD exemption, short-haul drivers can benefit from not installing an ELD and avoid following federal hours of service regulations.

Vehicles with Engines Made Before 2000

All electronic logging devices need an engine control module to operate. However, vehicles manufactured before 2000 typically don’t have these ECM’s. Regardless of the registration date, the exemption is applied to the engine’s model year. Even if the vehicle is newer, but the engine predates the year 2000, it will be exempt from installing ELD.

Farm Vehicles

Some farm vehicles have the benefit of being exempt from an ELD. However, this doesn’t apply to all agricultural vehicles. This only applies to vehicles that are privately carrying commodities such as machinery, supplies, and livestock.

Maintain Record of Duty Status for 8 Days per Month or Less

A record of duty status, otherwise known as the driver log, must be recorded for every 24 hours of transportation. This can be done through an ELD, manually recorded on a specific grid, or managed by an automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD). Commercial motor drivers who typically transport eight days a month or less are not required to have an ELD. If you fall under this category, you’ll still be required to maintain paper logs of information required by the FMCSA. This means that ELD exemption short-haul drivers who infrequently take longer trips do not necessarily need to upgrade to an ELD.

Towaway Drivers

Driveaway-towaway drivers transport a commercial motor vehicle as part of their job description. Typically, they don’t own the vehicle being operated. This means they aren’t required to install an ELD.

The Benefits of using an ELD

While some commercial fleets may qualify for an exemption, an ELD can still provide lots of excellent benefits. In this case, you’ll have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for your fleet.


Buying a physical ELD typically can be expensive, and this upfront cost deters many fleet managers and individual operators. Paper logs or timecards were the standard years ago, and many don’t want to pay the costs of upgrading. Yet if you examine the potential ROI of an ELD with a good fleet management system and telematics reporting, you’ll often find it pays for itself rather quickly.

Safety Benefits

One primary benefit of ELDs paired with telematics reporting is a boost in driver safety. These devices report risky driving behaviors like speeding or hard braking to fleet managers. Appropriate training can then be implemented to boost fleet safety and minimize risks. Programs like Azuga’s Driver Safety Rewards even offer the added benefit of rewarding drivers who perform their duties safely day in and day out.

Improved Routing

Because ELDs include GPS technology, many are also tied to driver routing and dispatch programs. With this technology, drivers can avoid traffic jams and road hazards, plan the most efficient route to their destination, and even find nearby gas stations or rest stops with ease. Improved routing can boost your fleet’s productivity and help cut back on fuel expenses too.


Since the mandate has already kicked in, most commercial drivers are required to have an ELD. Drivers in a few select categories may qualify for the ELD exemption, but some find that the benefits of the technology outweigh the costs. Azuga offers an ELD-compliant solution for fleet management that can help your fleet save money, operate more efficiently, and promote safe driving practices. For some drivers, it physically or financially may not make sense to invest in an ELD due to circumstances, but for others, an ELD is a cost-effective solution with plenty of advantages..