What is the Short Haul Exemption?

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On December 17, 2019, it became mandatory for all non-exempt motor carriers and drivers to comply with FMCSA’s ELD rule. Non-compliance can lead to reduced CSA scores, citations, and hefty fines, so it’s best to be sure of your status upfront. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations and short-haul ELD exemptions can be quite complex but read on to get a better grip.

Understanding the ELD Mandate

Before outlining short-haul exemptions for truck drivers, it is essential to understand what the ELD rule entails.

Hours of service (HOS) regulations from the FMCSA authorize inspection officers to check and review a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS) at any time. Inspections are typically done at designated roadside checkpoints.

The ELD rule’s main objective is to make roads safer for everyone and to create a safe working environment for drivers. It also aims to facilitate swift and accurate tracking, management, and reporting of RODS data.

What is the Short Haul Exemption from the ELD Mandate?

The short-haul exemption is one way some commercial fleets may be exempted from using electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track their fleet drivers’ activities.

The Department of Transport (DOT), through the FMCSA, added the short-haul exemption because there were little concerns about fatigue and road safety problems for short-haul compared to long-haul truck operations.

Long-haul truckers tend to keep longer hours, and may even drive overnight. Their routes are most often highway driving with few stops to break up the drive. All of this lends itself to drowsy driving and can result in accidents. By contrast, short-haul drivers typically work shorter shifts with many stops and other ways to break up the work day. The conditions of this type of driving make it less likely that they would fall prey to dozing off behind the wheel.

What are the Requirements for the Short-Haul Exemption?

To merit exemption from the ELD mandate, some ground requirements must be met.

#1. Your fleet drivers must be operating within a radius of 100 air miles from the workstation

It means that drivers can only follow routes that restrain them from going beyond the designated 100 air-mile radius. It is usually the first requirement that ought to be met, sometimes referred to as the 100 air-mile exemption.

As a driver, your operations are not restricted to the number of depots you serve, provided they are well within 100 air-miles of the reporting station.

Delivery operations using non-CDL tracks like NEMT or parcel delivery companies are allowed to operate within an expanded radius of 150 air-miles and remain exempt.

After starting a shift, drivers must not work beyond 12 hours. A driver’s shift must not exceed 11 straight hours of driving and must return to their reporting station within 12 hours of starting a shift to clock out officially. During this time, they must be exempted from any other duty.

#2. Your fleet drivers must end their haul right where they began.

If your drivers start at one facility and end at another, no matter how close together these facilities are, they do not qualify for the short-haul exemption.

#3. The fleet company must maintain driving records for all its drivers for a period of at least six months.

Relevant details in these records include:

  • Individual reports for drivers
  • Daily report on the time of reporting for duty
  • Daily total on-duty hours for each driver
  • Daily total off-duty hours for each driver
  • Total number of driving hours for the last seven days

These time records must verify that exempt drivers follow hours of service (HOS) regulations, and must be well kept for at least six months.

Note: Time cards are different from Record of Duty Status (RODS), as they must be kept by the carrier only. The short-haul exemption exempts drivers from keeping digital or paper logs of their on-duty time.

What Should You Do if you Do Not Qualify for the ELD Exemptions Short-Haul?

If you currently do not meet the requirements for the short-haul exemption, and you run a commercial fleet business, follow these steps:

Step One – Ensure you have installed FMCSA approved ELDs on your vehicles

Until you’ve met all the requirements mentioned above for exemption, make sure you’ve kept or installed electronic logging devices on your fleet. Failure to do so could lead to hefty fines and citations.

Step Two – Remap short-haul routes to be within the required radius of 100 air-miles.

If all other requirements have been met, except operating within 100 air-miles, reconfiguring your routes could make you compliant. Even if you run multiple depots and reporting offices, it would be easier to reassign orders between drivers within the stipulated 100 air-mile radius.

Step Three – Readjust workloads to comply with shift requirements

Your drivers might meet all the other requirements except for their working hours. If that is the case, you can make use of a route planner to balance workloads. With a reliable route planner, you will be able to create accurate schedules on routes where no driver has to work beyond the 11-hour limit.

Staying Up-To-Date with Evolving ELD Regulations

It is prudent to remember that fleet management and FMCSA compliance matters are subject to change. HOS regulations keep evolving. Good examples are in the amendment to the definition of the short-haul exemption, the temporary Covid-19 relief exceptions, and the added 150 air-mile radius exemption for the agricultural industry.

Round-the-clock fleet tracking allows you to manage driver behavior effectively, minimize maintenance costs, and, most importantly, boost productivity and efficiency even within confined routes.

When to Consider an ELD Even When Currently Exempt

Even for compliant fleets that meet the laid-down requirements for ELD exemptions short-haul, a telematics solution needs to be considered for the following categories:

  • If you plan to expand your business within the next year - Often, the initial implementation of an ELD is easier with a manageable number of vehicles and drivers.
  • If you want to mitigate CSA violations – Whether you’re exempt from the ELD obligations or not, implementing a proper telematics solution across all your vehicles can play a significant role in boosting your CSA score. It makes you more in touch with activities going on across your fleet.
  • If you have many drivers – An ELD enables you to see the financial returns of your business quickly even when you are managing many vehicles and many drivers.

Azuga offers more than just compliance

Azuga stands out as the perfect ELD solution for nearly any fleet. It helps reduce potential issues related to compliance well in advance, but there is more to our fleet management software and GPS tracking devices. Azuga Fleet can also help you promote a culture of safety, reduce fuel costs, optimize routes, and stay on top of maintenance.

Get Azuga’s eLog software today, and maximize the productivity of your fleet, minimize operating costs, and keep everything within close control. Experience top-notch features such as real-time tracking, ETAs, and driver schedule planner, among many other features. You cannot afford to miss out.