With less than a year until the December deadline to switch from grandfathered automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to mandated electronic logging devices (ELDs), the heat is already on to take steps to make the switch and remain in compliance. 

Some drivers and enforcement personnel have been in a quandary over the differences between an ELD and an AOBRD — particularly with both devices still presently in use — sometimes unable to identify which is being used on vehicles during roadside inspections. While the two are similar, ELDs are more accurate and have more potential to be integrated into other fleet management solutions. The benefits of accuracy and the ability to integrate it into a telematics solution to leverage the ELD data should motivate fleets to begin the transition long before the December 16 deadline for ELD compliance. More practically, as fleets that have already transitioned to ELDs discovered during the 2017 transition, implementation and training will likely take significantly longer than expected. Taking the first steps to transitioning today is essential for all these reasons. 

An AOBRD synchronizes with specific operations of the truck to record:
     •  Date and time 
     •  Engine use
     •  Road speed
     •  Miles driven
     •  Locations covered
     •  Duty status

Why Transition to ELDs?

AOBRDs were designed to meet FMCSA regulations established in the late 1980s, with the ability to track a driver’s duty status information to comply with HOS rules by recording engine use, speed, miles driven and dates/times by using a physical connection to the engine. The simple technology is limited and comes with flaws like ease of tampering and the ability for supervisors to changes logs without a driver’s approval.

In keeping with updated FMCSA regulations, an ELD not only documents a driver’s driving time and speed to ensure compliance with HOS—it has integral synchronization into a vehicle’s diagnostic port to record vehicle motion activity, engine hours, power status, vehicle motion status and location, making it more accurate and less subject to tampering. The sophisticated technology also requires a driver’s approval of their electronic logs, the ability to make alterations and annotations—in the event of errors or need for clarification—and the requirement that drivers approve any changes made by supervisors or other back-office personnel.

An ELD synchronizes with a truck’s engine to automatically record:
     •  Date and time
     •  Engine power status
     •  Vehicle motion status
     •  Miles driven
     •  Locations covered
     •  Engine hours
     •  Identification of driver/authorized user
     •  Identification of vehicle and motor carrier
     •  Log in and log out
     •  Duty status
     •  Malfunction data

AOBRDs and ELDs both capture record of duty status (RODS) data automatically at each duty status change, but ELDs also capture RODS automatically every 60 minutes while a vehicle is in motion, whenever the engine is powered on or off, and at the start and finish of personal use and yard moves. In compliance with the regulations, an ELD creates an electronic log that must be assigned to a driver or annotated every time a vehicle moves, and also warns users about unassigned driving time when they log in. An AOBRD presents data through a display or printout, while ELD is required to have the ability to transmit data immediately to authorized safety officials through a wireless service and email or by use of a USB2.0 and Bluetooth.


Related eBook: The AOBRD Countdown

Choosing an ELD
Not all ELDs are compliant or equal, and it is the responsibility of carriers to make sure the device they are using is included in the list of self-certified ELDs on the FMCSA site. Become familiar with the ELD rule and use the FMCSA’s ELD checklist to esure that the ELD device you choose meets the requirements.

Choosing a provider who can offer an ELD that is bundled with a telematics system can leverage compliance to improve your fleet’s operations and the company’s bottom line. An ELD that functions as part of a fleet management solution provides transformative features to your business, connecting carriers, drivers, regulatory agencies, enforcement personnel, back office staff, and customers in a seamless cycle of modern business operations. 

Having a comprehensive fleet management program coupled with the fleet’s ELD provides you with scalable features such as near real-time alerts, customized reporting, programmed preventive maintenance, automated scheduling and dispatch and route optimization while remaining in compliance and on the road. 


Future Ready
AOBRDs are already outdated and will soon be noncompliant, so it is vital to begin transitioning to a system that will keep your company relevant and competitive in the digital business era. Start today so you can map out a plan for choosing a vendor, pilot potential solutions, provide thorough training, and work out any kinks that may occur so you’re in compliance on December 16. As part of this process, consider bundling your ELD with a telematics solution to leverage the data you’re required to capture so you can be one step ahead of your competition and future-proof your fleet’s operation. 

As a word of warning, a recent industry forecast by Automotive Fleet warns, “Fleets that lag behind current trends may find themselves scrambling to become relevant in an industry that continues its march forward.”

Related eBook: The AOBRD Countdown