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FMCSA Official Clarifies ELD Rule

It's no April Fools joke: the electronic device (ELD) mandate deadline of April 1 is fast approaching. Drivers who do not have an ELD or AOBRD grandfathered in by then will be removed from service.

The mandate still raises several questions and has been considered to be confusing for some. Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, answers a few of those pressing questions.

DeLorenzo appeared at last week's Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville to discuss the mandate. “It amazes me how many times people don’t understand how the rule works,” he said, “But it was written by Congress, so it can be confusing.”

What are some of the other FMCSA components?

The 150 air-mile agricultural exemption was another point of discussion. "Once you exit that 150 air-mile radius, that’s when you have to use the ELD and your 11 hours start,” he said.

DeLorenzo clarified this with an example. If a federally compliant ag hauler is taking a load of cows, the first 150 air miles (approximately 172 actual miles) do not count against hours of service limits. Once the driver hits mile 151, he must start recording his driving time on the ELD.

FMCSA is also considering the possibility of including the 150 air-mile exemption on the back end. So, the driver could take 150 miles before 11 hours and 150 after 11 hours and still be compliant. However, DeLorenzo noted that nothing has been finalized there.

DeLorenzo also had some advice for drivers using the 90-day waiver from the ELD rule for ag haulers exemption. They were to advised to carry in their vehicle a copy of the waiver, which expires on June 18.

Other points of discussion

  • Any driver that must currently fill out a Record of Duty Status (RODS) will need an ELD, with a handful of exceptions.

  • How will enforcement know what model year the vehicle engine is? DeLorenzo: "When you do an engine swap, normal DOT regulations require you to keep paperwork at the fleet location. ... Officials have been trained to look for the model year on the engine and if they can’t find it, they should take the word of the driver.”

  • Fleets MUST ensure each driver knows which device they are using (ELD or AOBRD), and how to properly operate it.

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