Ready or Not! The ELD Mandate is Coming- And it’s coming to YOU!

December 13th, 2017 2:52 PM | 2 Comments

By: Barbara Aitken Jenkins

Special thanks to Mike Harter and David Aitken

In the last few weeks, a conversation that has dominated the equine industry is the ELD Mandate that will take effect December 18, 2017. What we do know is that this mandate affects us as an industry and as recreational and business haulers. But what might be a little more ambiguous is how it affects us and what it actually means for our future as equine enthusiasts. This article is intended to give general information and pursue awareness on an issue that will affect the horse industry. Due to the myriad rules and regulations regarding the ELD mandate and the other rules and regulations that are related to the subject, we urge everyone to read, research, and strive to understand how these rules will personally affect you.

 Terms to Know:

ELD- Electronic Logging Device

FMCSA- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

CMV- Commercial Motor Vehicle

RODS- Record of Duty Status

HOS- Hours of Service

GVWR -Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

So, when did this all start?

History of the ELD Mandate

The road to the ELD Mandate actually began on July 6, 2012, in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21 for the Electronic Logging Device (ELD)” when President Obama signed the law into action. The MAP-21 took effect October 1, 2012, and over the last five years has been subjected to various updates. According to the FMCSA the goal of the MAP-21 was to, “improve commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety by supporting its three core principles:

1.    Raise the bar to enter the industry and operate on our roads;

2.    Hold motor carrier and drivers to the highest safety standards to continue operations; and

3.    Remove the highest risk drivers, vehicles, and carriers from our roads and prevent them from operating.”

What is the mandate in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) for the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule?

The ELD mandate calls for the Secretary of Transportation to adopt regulations requiring ELD use in commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) involved in interstate commerce, when operated by drivers who are required to keep RODS.

Well, that was confusing. So let’s ask again. 

What exactly is the electronic logging device rule?

 By definition, the electronic logging device (ELD) rule is congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21 and is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share RODS data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service HOS recording.

The ELD rule:

•    Requires ELD use by commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS).

•    Sets ELD performance and design standards, and requires ELDs to be certified and registered with FMCSA.

•    Establishes what supporting documents drivers and carriers are required to keep.

•    Prohibits harassment of drivers based on ELD data or connected technology (such as fleet management system). The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

This all sounds good, but does it affect YOU?

First of all, are you driving a Commercial Vehicle?

 In addition to vehicles designed for transportation of 9-15 (or more) people or any vehicles used to transport hazardous materials, trucks and trailers can easily fall into the CMV category.

The FMCSA’s safety regulations include:

 A vehicle with a GVWR or gross combination weight rating of 4,537 kg (10,001lb) or more, whichever is greater.

Real World Breakdown:

 Okay, those numbers seem a bit ambiguous and not at all relative to normal people, right?


I went outside to check my two trucks, a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado dually and my 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 truck, the two trucks that pull my horse trailers.

 Shockingly enough, both my trucks turn out to be commercial vehicles.

 Inside both drivers’ doors is a sticker with various information about the vehicle, including the GVWR.

The dually came to a total of 5171 KG (11400lb) which by definition makes this truck a CMV just by sitting parked, let alone pulling a trailer of any size.

The 1500 Chevrolet’s GVWR total was 3085KG (6800lb), which leaves it 1252KG (3,201lb) shy of being a CMV. BUT, there’s no doubt by the time a horse trailer is hooked up, it will exceed the minimum weight.

 So by definition, if I haul my 1500 Chevrolet and little red two-horse trailer down the road, I am required to keep an ELD just like semis because I am technically the same?

Simple answer: Yep.

The scary truth is most people who show horses fall into the CMV category even without know solely based on the fact that either your truck is over the CMV minimum or the combination of your truck and trailer are over the limit.  

If we must get an ELD, how much is it going to cost?

 With the ELD rule, the FMCSA estimates that the average annual cost of an ELD will be $495 per truck, with a total range of $165 to $832 per truck on an annualized basis.


 Well if it’s going to cost that much, how does it work?

 ELD solutions are typically offered in two formats: An all-in-one package including a device with a pre-loaded mobile app, or a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) solution, which the carrier can put on their existing hardware (depending on compatibility). A smartphone or tablet can be used as part of the ELD solution provided that it meets FMCSA technical specifications and is certified and registered.


The ELD seems like a reasonable (although quite expensive) addition to the shipping industry, so why is it being perceived as negative for the horse industry?

This question can be answered simply with two answers—ten hour rest period and mandated breaks.

As a synchronized addition to your engine, once your vehicle goes over 5mph, the ELD tracks the vehicle for the next 14 hours nonstop and does not account for traffic, fueling, or loading or unloading. In addition to being tracked for time off the road, drivers are also obligated to rest for a mandatory 10- hour rest period. Those 10 hours must be consecutive hours and must be logged appropriately or drivers are subject to fines.  Commercial drivers are required to take a 30-minute break within the 11 hour driving period and cannot go past 8 hours without taking a break. This mandatory break is calculated from when the vehicle starts moving and is tracked by the ELD. It does not take into account any other stops or breaks that may have occurred within the 8-hour time period. The break must be 30 consecutive minutes. A driver cannot substitute the 30-minute break with a 10-minute break and later a 20-minute break.

Real world breakdown:

How many times have you traveled to a show that is quite a haul and you and your co-pilot split driving shifts all the way to your destination knowing that both you and your horses can rest comfortably once everyone is bedded down at the show.

Now, according to the ELD mandate, if you qualify as a commercial vehicle (which you most likely do), you must add and comply with the ELD and will not be able to drive longer than 14 hours no matter how close to your destination you may be. You will either need to find a horse motel to offload your horses or have them stand in the trailer for the mandatory 10-hour rest period to avoid fines.

HUGE concerns

Offloading or keeping your horses in the trailer for extended periods of time, brings countless concerns including the spread of disease.

AQHA Executive Vice President, Craig Huffhines clearly stated his concerns on animal welfare, when he wrote a letter to the FMCSA on November 30, 2017, stating, “the welfare and safety of the livestock in transit is a top priority of the livestock industry. A hauler is faced with many considerations when transporting horses including the vulnerability of horses to the elements and changes thereto. The longer horses remain on trailers is detrimental to the welfare and safety of the horses. In fact, industry guidelines mandate that drivers avoid stops while hauling livestock, especially in warmer climates.”

He continued, “HOS rules mandating a hauler to stop for 10 hours would require the hauler to find a safe and compatible place to offload the horses…the constant offloading /reloading and comingling of horses by haulers for periods of time at indiscriminating locations presents a significant safety and biosecurity risk of the industry and, among other things, foster conditions conducive to the development of contagious disease and spread thereof.”

Is there a way to be exempt from the ELD Mandate?

The ELD rule allows limited exceptions to the ELD mandate, including:

•    Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards; they are not required to keep RODS and will not be required to use ELDs.

•    Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.

•    Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

•    Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

 Crossing Borders

The ELD rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to maintain records of duty status (RODS). The rule applies to commercial buses as well as trucks, and to Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers.

Starting December 18, 2017, Mexican and Canadian truckers operating in the United States will be required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs), along with their US counterparts. 

According to Canadian websites discussing the ELD Mandate, the Canadian ELD mandate is still in development, but the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) will follow the United States’ process. The compliance deadline is projected at the end of 2019. 

Mexico is also working on creating ELD mandates as well.

AQHA’s Request

As the deadline for the implementation gets closer, the horse industry is growing in concern for all of the questions still unanswered concerning the practicalities and welfare for the horses on board.

In his letter to the FMCSA, Craig Huffhines asked the Department of Transportation, “to grant a one-year enforcement delay followed by a waiver and limited exemptions from compliance with the December 18, 2017, implementation date for the Final Rule on ELDs and HOS. This will allow the Department the opportunity to take appropriate steps to alleviate any unintended consequences that this mandate may have on the hauling of horses.”

He continued by making the bold statement, “Despite its being issued nearly two years ago, awareness for this rule is low among the equine industry. The lack of outreach by the FMCA to livestock industry stakeholders has led to the lack of awareness. Furthermore, by failing to reach out to the livestock industry, education and compliance will be difficult to achieve without granting an exemption from the ELD mandate.”  

In addition to AQHA, other livestock/agricultural associations including the American Farm Bureau Federation have made requests for the Department of Transportation and the FMCSA for a waiver and exemption from the impending ELD mandate deadline.

Where do we go from here?

With the deadline ticking closer and closer, the inevitable fact is, eventually, we, as a horse industry will be forced to comply with the new and changing laws. Whether that deadline is later this month or in a year or two, it is imperative to educate our own selves on state and national laws regarding the routes you drive to and from horse events.

 For more information or if you have questions on specific information from this article, please visit the FMCSA website at 

2 Responses to “Ready or Not! The ELD Mandate is Coming- And it’s coming to YOU!”

  1. If hauler must have eld than does this not put them classified as commercial trucking? Would they not be required to have a dot#, cdl, pay quarterly fuel tax, hwy use tax, commercial insurance etc

  2. “The 1500 Chevrolet’s GVWR total was 3085KG (6800lb), which leaves it 1252KG (3,201lb) shy of being a CMV. BUT, there’s no doubt by the time a horse trailer is hooked up, it will exceed the minimum weight.

    So by definition, if I haul my 1500 Chevrolet and little red two-horse trailer down the road, I am required to keep an ELD just like semis because I am technically the same?
    Simple answer: Yep.”

    You are misinformed. The combined weight of a truck and trailer is 26,001 lb and then you need an ELD device. It is not a combined weight over 10000 lbs.

    Classes of License and Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLP)
    Pursuant to Federal standards, States issue CDLs and CLPs to drivers according to the following license classifications:

    Class A: Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.

    Class B: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).

    This is confusing enough without spreading more misinformation Joan

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