ELD Blog

Regulatory update on agricultural commodities exception

FMCSA’s new guidance for transporters of agricultural commodities seeks to provide clarity on the use of this exception to both the industry and law enforcement and offers some operational flexibility.

The guidance clarifies that the following operations are not subject to hours-of-service (HOS) regulations while operating within 150 air-mile radius of the source of the commodity:

  • Drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity as defined in § 395.2, or returning from a delivery point are exempt from HOS regulations
  • Drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-mile radius from the source of the agricultural commodity are not subject to HOS regulations until they exit the 150 air-mile radius.

The guidance also clarifies what can be considered a “source” of an agricultural commodity:

  • The source of an agricultural commodity may not only be the farm or ranch where the agricultural commodity originates, but can include intermediate storage and loading facilities such as grain elevators or sale barns, provided the product still meets the definition of an agricultural commodity.
  • When agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip, only the first loading point can be considered a source.

Note that the determination of source is important because it is the point from which the 150 air-mile radius is calculated for a driver not to be subject to HOS regulations.

So if you have a driver that transports agricultural commodity, then how do they record their HOS on an ELD?

If the driver only operates the vehicle within the 150 air-mile radius from the source:

Either:

  • OPTION 1: The driver does not require record of duty status and ELDs as the driver is not subject to HOS regulations within the 150 air-mile radius.
  • OPTION 2: Set up the driver to use an ELD under an ‘ELD Exempt’ driver profile. Any time captured by the driver will show under ‘ELD Exempt’ profile. 

If the driver operates the vehicle outside the 150 air-mile radius:

Either:

  • OPTION 1: Use unidentified driving trips

A driver can operate within the 150 air-mile radius without logging into the ELD, and then log into the ELD once the vehicle reaches 150 air-mile radius limit. Driving time within the 150 air-mile radius will be identified on the ELD as “unidentified driving” trip. The driver should reject the unidentified driving time on the ELD and the motor carrier must annotate the unidentified driving trip to explain that it occurred while operating under an agricultural exemption.

  • OPTION 2: Use remark or annotations

A driver can log into the ELD when coming on-duty and identify the time operating within the 150 air-mile radius with a remark or annotation that the vehicle was operated under an agricultural HOS exemption.

  • OPTION 3: Use personal conveyance and add remark

When operating within the 150 air-mile radius, the driver can identify the movement of the vehicle as authorized personal conveyance on the ELD. The carrier must enable the personal conveyance status for the driver. When the driver logs into the ELD and selects personal conveyance status, the driver must make an annotation on the ELD explaining that the movement is exempt per the agricultural exemption. Upon exiting the 150 air-mile radius, the driver must then identify the vehicle as on-duty driving.

Refer to FMCSA's page on Agricultural Exceptions and Exemptions to FMCSA HOS and CDL Rules for more information. You can also review frequently asked questions on the subject in EROAD's Help Center.


Want a deeper dive into the updated regulations? Join EROAD's Director of Regulatory Compliance, Soona Lee, in a webinar on July 24, 2018 at 10am Pacific as we discuss, "How to use ELDs with personal conveyance and agricultural exemption."