Still using AOBRDs under the ELD mandate's grandfather clause? File photo: Schneider

Still using AOBRDs under the ELD mandate's grandfather clause? File photo: Schneider

If you’re using automatic onboard recording devices to track driver hours of service under the grandfather clause of the electronic logging device mandate, there’s something very important you need to do by mid-June, says a former commercial vehicle enforcement official who’s now a transportation consultant.

AOBRDs are allowed to be used instead of ELDs under a grandfather clause up until December 2019 – if fleets were using them before the 2017 ELD deadline of Dec. 17. And the latest guidance allows a motor carrier that installed and required its drivers to use an AOBRD before Dec. 18, 2017 to install and use a new ELD-capable device that runs compliant AOBRD software until the December 2019 full compliance deadline.

But consultant John Seidl, who works with Integrated Risk Solutions, notes that driver logs are only required to be kept for six months. How will a trucking company be able to prove that it was requiring its drivers to use AOBRDs prior to the 2017 ELD compliance deadline, once we’re more than six months past that December 2017 date?

That’s why Seidl is recommending that every trucking company using AOBRDs under the ELD grandfather clause print a driver’s log for every truck they operated in December prior to the deadline and put those in a file called “AOBRD evidence.”

“If you don’t do that by June, how are you going to prove to an investigator that you installed and used them?” Seidl asks. “If you don’t, you’re going to have to depend on the vendor.”

More AOBRD Confusion

With the recent guidance allowing grandfathered fleets to add new ELD-capable devices running AOBRD software, Seidl says, there’s some confusion about just how many drivers must have been using AOBRDs before the December 2017 compliance date to take advantage of this loosening of the grandfather provision.

This recent FMCSA ELD FAQ puts it this way:

May a motor carrier that installed and required its drivers to use an AOBRD before Dec. 18, 2017, install and use a new ELD-capable device that runs compliant AOBRD software after that date?

Yes, until Dec. 16, 2019.

Proof at Roadside, for Data Q Challenges

Each truck with a grandfathered AOBRD that was in use before December 2017 should have a copy of that prior-to-the-deadline log on board to use to show roadside inspectors that it’s a grandfathered device and thus not subject to ELD specifications, such as data transfer.

These printed logs also can be used as evidence for DataQ challenges for citations where enforcement officials are trying to claim that AOBRDs must meet ELD rules. And this confusion is very common, Seidl says.

“There are many inspectors that are writing AOBRD devices up for ELD-related violations, thus prompting me to do a bazillion Data Qs,” he says.

One example? Data transfer. An AOBRD is not required to be able to transfer data to enforcement officials at roadside like ELDs are. “It doesn’t have the programming embedded in it, nor was it required to so; it is impossible to make an AOBRD transfer a data file…. You can’t make an AOBRD transfer a file that doesn’t exist.”

Seidl contends that if you don’t retain this kind of evidence that you were using AOBRDs prior to the December 2017 ELD deadline and thus are grandfathered, “you could have an issue during a compliance review until June 2020.”

Wait a minute, you say – doesn’t the grandfather period end in December 2019? Seidl points out that the investigator can pull logs from the previous six months. “So, if I’m an inspector and I grab November 2019 logs, and I want to say [you weren’t running the required] ELDs, you have to prove [the AOBRDs] were installed prior to December of 2017,” he explains.

 

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