Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

Why many short haul fleets adopt ELD solutions 

Cyndi Brandt
VP of Product Marketing

Companies with fleets that run short haul likely don’t feel the urgency of the ELD Mandate that many carriers feel these days. While it’s true that the short haul exemption does keep many fleets from the need to comply, it turns out that some could be unintentionally violating Hours of Service rules. And others could simply benefit from drivers logging their hours

According to language in the ELD Mandate, if you’re running short haul, you’re not required to maintain RODS and, therefore, won’t need to log your hours with an ELD. To meet the FMCSA definition for short haul, you must:

  • Start and return to same location within 12 hours of duty time
  • Drive no more than 11 hours
  • Have ten consecutive hours off between shifts
  • Maintain your time clock function
  • Not exceed a 100-mile radius from your starting location

Drivers that start and end routes at the same “home base” — or, depot, in most cases — are required to maintain a RODs when they exceed their 12 hours of duty time or travel beyond a 100-mile radius of the depot.

Where ambiguity comes into play for short haul

The first few questions these companies ask themselves lead them to believe they are eligible for the short-haul exemption: Is your gross vehicle weight over 10,000 pounds (if a CDL is required)? Are your vehicles newer than the year 2000? Do you start and end the route at the same place? Fleets running short haul generally answer yes to these first few questions and think that they are exempt from the ELD Mandate. 

Where things get tricky involve routes longer than 12 hours, driving outside of a 100-mile radius, and whether drivers always drive the routes that are longer. Why? We always try to make routes 10 hours, but you know what happens. Most routes are within a 100-mile radius, but some are not. We try to always have the same drivers on the longer routes, but it’s so hard to keep track of — and besides, our regular route runs can sometimes go long.

If you run a mixed fleet or if any of the above sounds familiar, you might have been violating Hours of Service rules without even knowing it. The fines that are coming for not being in compliance are no joke — we are seeing more and more customers that fall mostly under the short haul rule adopt ELD solutions. But why would they go to the expense?

Not worrying about whether a driver will hit 12 hours

How often do you have routes that go over 12 hours? Foodservice and beverage distributors, for example, might have a hard time keeping track of extra hours during winter holidays and summers. 

When working three 12-hour days, we strive to make a perfect 12-hour route. But routes that are planned right on that time might really be 12 hours and 10 minutes. As soon as a driver hits 12 hours and one minute, he or she is required to take a 30-minute break and move to Federal rules. Without an automated system that prompts the driver to do the right thing that day and for the rest of the days before a reset, the driver could be going awry and be in violation.

This is important to know before the driver leaves as it is cumbersome to go back and create a log if a driver hits 12 hours in his or her day and now needs a mandatory break. 

Using ELDs to calculate 100 air miles

Once drivers exit a 100-mile radius from the depot, they have to move to federal rules. How does someone know how to calculate their air miles? How do they know when they are close? How do they know if an off day delivery that is just a bit further out put them over the limit? Just one mile over equals a mandatory 30-minute break to put the driver into Federal compliance.

And, don’t forget — if drivers don’t end in the same location they started, they could also be required to take a 30-minute break before logging off. When drivers have to pick something up at another stop unexpectedly, they could run out of time or be told to end at a different depot. And if you break short haul before or at the eighth hour you need to take a 30-minute break before you continue to drive.

Companies that find relief in using ELDs to keep track of the miles so that they don’t have to worry about Hours of Service violations.

Keeping track of drivers eligible to fill in for longer runs

Designating specific drivers who run both long haul and short haul is a way many companies keep track of who needs to maintain a log. But what happens when those drivers calls in sick? Finding a replacement driver can be a challenge. Has this driver had to keep a paper log at all for the past 30 days? How many times? Will this be the eighth time?

Once someone needs to keep a log, fleet managers need to make sure they keep it until the 60/70 hour restart. Knowing at all times how many days someone ran a route that required a log is hard to manage, including knowing when they hit day eight. 

If every driver keeps a log, routers can now put any driver on any route without worrying about compliance. 

Short haul isn’t necessarily a clean break from ELD. There are a multitude of items that have to be managed every day. And personal liability comes into play for the driver, route planner, dispatcher, and company if route lengths are not managed appropriately. 

Using an ELD-compliant device eliminates these concerns — it automatically knows when the driver needs to be in compliance and architects the electronic logs needed based upon time clock information when a threshold is met. Getting close to 100 air miles, a warning appears, hit 12 hours and one minute, a break appears. Plus, it will prompt drivers to remain in compliance and complete logs until the 60/70 restart period has been fulfilled. With a solution like Omnitracs’ Routing, Dispatching, and Compliance (RDC), data is collected in the background so that if a driver breaks 100 miles or 12 hours while in short haul mode, the system automatically flips to keep RODS. 

Using RDC, companies get a single location to view all of their delivery planning and ELD compliance data.

Are you running short haul and not sure if you’re exempt? Download this chart to find out.