December 2017 approaches: What you need to know about the ELD mandate

December 18, 2017 is a big day for all commercial truck drivers. That’s the day that all commercial truck drivers will be required to have electronic logging devices (ELDs), which track the number of hours truck drivers are on the road, in their vehicles. And that includes tow trucks. This mandate comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the organization responsible for regulating commercial vehicles. If your tow truck drivers are required to keep a record of duty status (RODS), you need to adhere to the ELD mandate. In this article, we’ll go over some of the benefits of ELDs and what you need to know about the new mandate.

The benefits of ELDs:

According to an article in the November 2017 issue of Tow Times, many commercial fleets are not yet using ELDs despite the benefits. A survey by CJ Driscoll mentioned in the article reports that 60% still use paper records to report hours of service.

Some of the pros of using ELDs are…

  • Making the roads safer.
  • Helping drivers keep their attention on the road so they can focus on driving defensively.
  • The impossibility of falsifying a report.
  • Accuracy.
  • Reducing paperwork for law enforcement.
  • Reducing the number of HOS violations.

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Exemptions to the ELD mandate:

Some commercial fleets are exempt from the new ELD mandate. Of course, if you already have an approved ELD, you’re all set. The three main exemptions are…

  • Short-haul exemption: A tow truck driver is exempt per the “rolling 30-day rule” if they do not go over 8 hours of work in any given 30-day time period. However, they must still keep some sort of record of hours.
  • 1999 and older vehicles: This one is a little tricky. Vehicles that are older than 1999 are exempt, but law enforcement will be using the VIN to check the year of the truck, not necessarily the year of the engine.
  • Tow-away/Drive-away: Tow-away or drive-away drivers are exempt if the vehicle they’re moving is the commodity. Drivers are also exempt if they’re moving a motorhome or RV trailer as long as one set of wheels on the vehicle being moved is on the surface while it’s being transported.

Keep in mind that you need to be able to prove, with documentation, that you’re exempt. You can’t just say you’re exempt and be exempt. Law enforcement will want to make sure that your drivers are adhering to hours of service laws because driving drowsy is dangerous.

A word about AOBRDs:

AOBRDs, or automatic onboard recording devices, are a little different from ELDs. Approved ELDs are certified and registered with the FMCSA, while AOBRDs are not. If your tow trucks use AOBRDs, you will have until December 2019 to switch over to ELDs. If you don’t have an AOBRD, you need to switch by December 18, 2017.

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It’s important to stay compliant with the new ELD requirements. This law, just like the Department of Transportation law prohibiting cell phone use by commercial vehicle drivers, is there for a reason. If you have any questions or would like more information, visit the FMCSA website.

Need some tow truck insurance? We can help you out with that. If you want to shop for the best rates for your insurance, we can get you three free quotes. All you have to do to get started with your tow truck insurance quotes is fill out our quote form or give us a call today.


Padilla, Maria T. “ELD Rollout Starts in December.” Tow Times, Nov. 2017, pp. 48-


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