Are AOBRD devices still compliant? Differences between AOBRD and ELD

Confused about whether or not your AOBRD device is still compliant? What’s the deal with the ELD mandate? Should you make the switch? And if so, how do you transition?

We’re answering all of these questions and more in today’s article, as well as discussing the differences between AORBD and ELD.

What’s an AOBRD?

An AOBRD, which stands for Automatic On-Board Recording Device, is an electronic device that records the number of a driver’s Hours of Service as stated by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) in the U.S. Hours of Service of Drivers regulations Section § 395.15.

AOBRD is basically an earlier version of the newer ELD, also known as Electronic Logging Device. Both devices are plugged into the vehicle’s ECM (electronic control module) port to record HoS data automatically.

AOBRDs, however, record and display much fewer data compared to ELD models.

What’s the Difference between AOBRD and ELD?

When it comes to features and functions, there are several important technical differences between AOBRDs and ELDs. Here’s a breakdown of the ones you should know:

1. Integral Synchronization and Communication

While AOBRDs are required to include “integral synchronization”, the FMCSA never provided a clear definition for the term under the AOBRD rule.

On the other hand, the ELD rule covers this feature thoroughly. It states that the device must be connected to the vehicle’s ECM port so it can keep track of when the engine is turned on, when the vehicle is moving, how long the engine has been running, as well as the exact number of miles that have been driven based on odometer readings.

Vehicles made before the year 2000 are excluded from this requirement.

2. Communication Methods

The AOBRD rule only mentions that the device must be able to communicate with a printer. But the ELD rule explains in more detail how the device should send logs to safety officials.

It states that the device must share data using one of the following two options:

  • Telematics – the ELD has to be able to transfer data via wireless web services and email.
  • Local Transfer – The ELD must be able to transfer data through a USB cable and Bluetooth.

3. Vehicle Location Records

Both AOBRDs and ELDs have to record the vehicle’s location, but there are different requirements regarding when it must be done.

AOBRDs are required to record the location of the vehicle every time there’s a change in duty status, however, there’s no obligation for it to be automatically logged by GPS. Drivers are allowed to log their location manually.

Using an ELD, the location of the vehicle has to be automatically recorded at multiple different times as follows:

  • While the vehicle is moving every 60 minutes
  • Whenever the engine is turned on or off
  • Whenever there’s a change in the duty status
  • At the beginning and end of personal use and yard moves

Speaking of personal use, the ELD’s location accuracy falls from a 1-mile radius to a 10-mile radius while driving under personal conveyance to keep the privacy of the driver’s exact location intact. This privacy provision is not mentioned in the AOBRD rule.

4. Auto-Switching to On Duty

Unlike AOBRDs, ELDs are required to track on-duty not driving status. Here’s how this works:

If the vehicle doesn’t move for 5 consecutive minutes and the driver doesn’t respond to a prompt on the device within 1 minute, the ELD will automatically switch the status to “on-duty not driving”

5. Unidentified Driver Logs

Another requirement addressed by the ELD rule but was never mentioned in the AOBRD rule is Unidentified Driver Logs.

The ELD rule states that if there are unassigned driving times or miles, a warning must pop up when someone logs into the device. This warning asks drivers to indicate whether the unassigned records belong to them or not.

Additionally, carriers should review any unidentified driving time and assign it to the right driver or explain why the time isn’t assigned. In case no drivers accept the unassigned time, carriers are required to hold onto the unidentified driving records for a minimum of 6 months.

That being said, ELDs are not required to notify drivers if they exceed the HOS limits.

6: Clock Time Drift

ELDs must perform well when it comes to telling time. This is a requirement that was never included in the AOBRD rule.

As such, ELDs are synchronized to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). The time synchronization has to be within 10 minutes of UTC at all times.

7. Graph Grid

The Graph grid of a driver’s duty status changes is required in the ELD rule, either in display or printout format.

8: Tampering Resistance

While both rules state that the devices must be “tamper-proof”, the AOBRD rule doesn’t provide as much detail as the ELD rule does.

ELDs make log entries automatically, whereas AOBRDs allow drivers to choose whether they want the device to track driver duty status automatically or manually. Moreover, the ELD rule further explains its anti-tampering requirements to mandate the following:

  • Only limited edits are allowed to be made to ELD records by either the carrier or the driver
  • Drivers must approve of any changes made to an ELD record by the carrier
  • An original copy of the ELD record is saved when edits are made
  • Carriers are prohibited to force drivers to make changes to their logs, and the FMCSA has restrictions in place to protect drivers from harassment regardless of the type of device they use. Drivers can file a written complaint with the FMCSA if they feel they’re being harassed.

Are AOBRDs Still Compliant?

No, AOBRDs are no longer compliant. Fleets using AOBRDs were “grandfathered” up until December 16, 2019. But that deadline has now passed and the FMCSA has made it clear they won’t be extending the deadline for transitioning to ELD.

If you’re yet to make the switch, you must see that it happens as urgently as possible if you don’t want to find yourself in front of a DOT officer with a non-compliant system.

How to Transition from AOBRD to ELD?

Waiting until the last minute to update your system isn’t in your best interest, and by now, you should be well on your way to getting the hang of using ELDs.

Businesses that waited too long to implement ELD endured significant implementation delays as a result of thousands of new customers onboarding at once. The AOBRD transition probably won’t be much different with late adopters being more at risk of experiencing hiccups along the way.

Additionally, switching from AOBRDs will cause substantial HOS logging changes for drivers and changes in the workflow for managers, which means you need to be prepared accordingly.

So, how should your team get ready for the AOBRD transition? Here’s a list of a few things you can to help your team make a smooth transition ease fleet management:

  • Determine what you need for implementation and formulate a detailed plan for installation. If you’re working with a larger fleet or you’re changing providers and need to de-install hardware, think about who will be carrying out your installs and how much time the process will take.
  • Educate your drivers as they’re on the front lines of the ELD shifting process. As a result, you’ll need to dedicate enough time to make sure they fully understand all the new fields, alerts, reports, and changes to log editing.

It’s best if you train all your drivers at the same time to speed up the entire process. After your ELD implementation, follow up the main training with a refresher session to remind them of the procedures. Thoroughly educating your drivers will enable them to enter information with high efficiency, which will save time and cut down on driver calls to the back-office.

  • In addition to drivers, you also need to train others involved as everybody’s affected by the ELD mandate. This includes your back-office and maintenance staff.

Your back-office staff uses Hours of Service (HOS) daily, so make arrangements to educate them about the aspects of the process as well. They do mainly manage paperwork and keep systems running, but they support driver needs as well.

Be sure to introduce any new or updated policies and procedures they may have to implement due to the ELD mandate.

It’s equally important to train your maintenance team on the new rules governing out-of-service vehicles and the filing of extension requests.

  • Update your company’s, drivers’, and vehicles’ records because the ELD mandate requires extra information about your assets – a lot more than what was needed under previous AOBRD rules.
  • Finally, enable the ELD. You can do a trial using ELD with a part of your fleet by enabling ELD for a depot or a few vehicles. Alternatively, you can enable your entire fleet in one session if your teams are well prepared.

Wrap Up

As with any new update, it’s important to make sure your system is online and completely functional, and your whole team should be trained and able to keep up. Remember, AOBRD is no longer compliant, so shift to ELD to prevent delays and avoid potential non-compliance issues.

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