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Utilize valuable HOS Exemptions to streamline your trips

Using HOS Exemptions to your benefit on your trips

October 17, 2023
March 6, 2024

Here are some common exemptions that allow you to run your transportation operations with needing to utilize ELDs.

In this article

While ELDs have become a vital tool in improving road safety and HOS compliance, there are exemptions in place for specific situations and drivers. These generally work in your favor, so make sure you take advantage of them if you meet the requirements for the exception.

  • Short Haul
  • Pre-2000 Model Year Vehicles
  • Driveaway-Towaway Operations
  • Agricultural Exemptions
  • Adverse Driving Conditions
  • Emergency Conditions

Common Exemption Cases from ELD Usage

Short-Haul Drivers

Drivers who operate within a 100 air-mile radius and return to their work reporting location within 12 hours are exempt from ELD requirements. Additionally, they are not required to maintain records of duty status (RODS).

If the driver meets one of the two short-haul operations requirements, they will be exempt from the 30-minute break rule in the US.

Requirements (One of the two below):

  • 100 Air Mile Driver: Driver operates within a 100 air-mile radius of their usual work reporting location and is released from work within 12 consecutive hours at their reporting location
  • Non-CDL 150 Air-Mile Driver: Non-commercial motor vehicle drivers license driver that operates within an 150 air-mile radius of where they report for duty

Drivers falling under the Short-Haul exemption will also be allowed to extend their 14 hour driving window to 16 hours.

The short-haul exemption is a significant one, often providing relief for drivers and carriers involved in short-haul operations.

Pre-2000 Model Year Vehicles

Vehicles manufactured before the year 2000 are exempt from ELD requirements. These older vehicles may lack the necessary electronic infrastructure for ELD installation.

Driveaway-Towaway Operations

Drivers involved in driveaway-towaway operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, are exempt from ELD requirements. These operations involve the delivery of an empty or unladen vehicle, such as a mobile home or trailer.

Agricultural Exemptions

Certain agricultural operations and drivers may be exempt from ELD requirements during planting and harvest seasons, as determined by specific state and regional regulations.

It's crucial for carriers and drivers to be aware of these triggers and understand when they are required to implement ELDs. Failure to comply with ELD mandates can result in penalties and fines, so staying informed and adhering to FMCSA & NSC regulations is essential for safe and compliant operations within the commercial transportation industry.

Adverse Driving Conditions

Under unexpected adverse driving conditions, drivers may drive up to 2 extra hours (13 hours).


  • Driver cannot have been dispatched after the carrier was notified or should have known about the adverse conditions
  • The additional 2 hours must still fall within the 14 hour window

Emergency Conditions

With this exception, during the occurrence of an emergency condition, all rules could be waived. Although the definition of an ‘emergency condition’ is not made clear, the rule of thumb is that under normal circumstances, the driver could have completed their run without any violations.

From the FMCSA guidelines: “The term “in any emergency” shall not be construed as encompassing such situations as a driver’s desire to get home, shippers’ demands, market declines, shortage of drivers, or mechanical failures.”

ELD technology helps beyond compliance

While some drivers and carriers might be exempt from mandatory ELD usage, the advantages of ELD technology extend beyond regulatory compliance. ELD technology often integrates with fleet management systems, GPS, and other applications. This integration facilitates real-time communication, better load management, and improved customer service.

Recognizing the broader benefits of ELD technology is crucial. Switchboard provides a third-party certified ELD and helps you manage your HOS & safety compliance. If you’re looking for a comprehensive and easy to use ELD for managing your hours-of-service, click here to learn more about Switchboard.

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