If you are using AOBRDs (automatic on-board recording devices) you have an additional two years – until December 2019 – to complete the transition to ELDs (electronic logging devices).

The grandfathering provision included in the ELD mandate originally applied on a per vehicle basis, so if you added vehicles to your fleet after December 2017, they would need to be fitted with an ELD. Four months after the mandate, the FMCSA relaxed this rule, allowing fleets using AOBRDs to install ELD-capable devices that run on AOBRD software in new vehicles until Dec. 15, 2019, when the AOBRD grandfather clause expires.

There are fundamental differences between a legacy AOBRD and an ELD. If you are currently weighing up between operating AOBRDs or ELDs, it is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ you will need to complete your transition to ELDs. It means you’re delaying the inevitable steps you need to take to effectively implement changes, including adjustments to your company’s policies or practices.

Consider this. If you are carefully choosing a car that is safest for your family, would you choose one designed to the latest safety standards or one designed to 1980s specifications? Inherently, you know that in choosing the latter, you are just delaying buying another car in a few years or quite possibly putting your family at risk.

Choosing an ELD should be the same.

A compliant ELD solution must meet all the functional requirements outlined in the December 2015 ELD mandate, while AOBRDs must adhere to a different set of requirements, published in 1988. Any difference between these requirements and the ELD mandate is an indication of the changes that you will have to manage and plan for in your future.

Let’s compare the key technical differences and requirements of AOBRDs and ELDs and consider what these mean for you.

1. Roadside Inspections

With AOBRDs, roadside inspections had varied processes and outcomes due to the lack of standardization across the devices and limited or minimal information available to enforcement officials. The ELD mandate standardizes the ELD data transfer process, formatting and backup inspection requirements to improve consistency around roadside inspections for drivers using ELDs.

For an AOBRD to satisfy the ELD requirements, it could mean upgrading the device so it can support the data transfer requirements and the backup option of either a display or printout. If the device cannot be untethered or be passed outside the vehicle, you may be required to install a printer or a different connection to satisfy the backup option requirement of either a Printout or Display.

Think about the following: How important is it to your operations that the device is connected to the cab? What do you think a roadside enforcement will tell their inspectors about handling a driver’s device without liability?

2. Malfunctions and Data Diagnostics

An ELD automatically captures driving time and facilitates the recording of driver’s hours of service (HOS) information. The rationale behind ELDs was to reduce falsification around driving time and ensure more accurate HOS information.
The integrity of the data from an ELD depends on the capability of the device to monitor for malfunctions and diagnose whether there has been any tampering with the records.

While AOBRD requirements did not address the parameters that constituted tampering or sensor failures, the ELD mandate specifically outlines what must be monitored, detected and recorded and makes the carrier responsible for ensuring malfunctions are resolved within eight days of discovery.

Given the short timeframe to fix the issue, it is important that you obtain instructions from your ELD provider on the list of malfunctions and data diagnostics events that can occur and how they can be resolved. It will require training for your drivers and support personnel in identifying and raising these issues in a timely manner.

Work with a provider with a dedicated customer support and technical support teams that can help you and your drivers get back on the road.

3. Location Records

Drivers may have to manually record the location on the AOBRD, which means it is no different from a paper logbook.

In contrast, ELDs require more sophistication around location recordings in terms of the frequency, accuracy and the display of information, depending on the activity. The ELD must automatically record the location at duty status changes; and while in driving status and the location must be captured at least every 60 minute intervals to two decimal place accuracy. The ELD must also be able to automatically process and record location at a reduced precision and lower frequency when the driver selects Personal Conveyance.

This means that when using a compliant ELD, the driver can be confident their records are up to date and their privacy is safeguarded when using Personal Conveyance.

4. Automated Driving Status

AOBRDs did not require driving status to be recorded automatically – AOBRD providers could implement this at their discretion. This means some AOBRD solutions may automatically record Driving status but that may not occur at 5mph but at 15mph.

A driver who is used to the higher speed threshold may find it difficult to adjust to a lower threshold of 5mph that triggers the change to Driving status. For instance, a driver may currently take a rest break in a yard and if they are asked to move, their logs may not show the disrupted break time. With an ELD, a driver may need to plan ahead and ensure they park in a place where they can take an undisturbed rest break. Implementing ELDs may uncover additional areas where behaviors needs to change to meet hours of service requirements. You may need to work with your fleet managers and drivers to understand the impacts of the automated Driving status and adjust company policies and practices to ensure that the drivers stay compliant within their hours of service. Change takes time and the sooner you work through these, the sooner you be rest assured of your compliance.

5. Editing Driver’s Records

With AOBRDs, once the driver submits the certified record of duty status to the carrier, they may not see changes made to their records. With ELDs, the driver must be able to review all changes and edits proposed to their logs. The driver reserves the right to accept or reject edits made by the carrier, and where the edits are accepted, the driver must recertify the records to confirm it is true and correct.

If your company is used to correcting drivers’ logs with AOBRDs, this may come as an adjustment. You will need to work with your drivers to actively review their records for any corrections or proposed carrier edits.

6. Special Driving Categories (Yard Move and Personal Conveyance)

The ELD mandate introduced two special driving categories of Yard Move and Personal Conveyance. A driver may be permitted to capture driving time around a yard as On-duty Yard Move and driving for personal use as Off-duty Personal Conveyance.

Certain AOBRDs have satisfied the market demand to enable drivers to select Yard Move and Personal Conveyance statuses. However, carriers need to be aware that these may not be designed to meet the specific requirements around recording of these special driving categories.

For example, a driver using an ELD must manually select and deselect On-duty Yard Move and Off-duty Personal Conveyance statuses when permitted. If the driver forgets to select or deselect the status, they can only annotate against the records given that Driving time cannot be shortened or edited.

You’ll need to work through scenarios where special driving categories can be used during operations and outline the best practices or expectations for your drivers. It’s important to revisit your company policies and capture it in your driver training.

7. Unidentified Driving Trips

An ELD must record all driving time and trips for a vehicle. All driving trips must be assigned to drivers or be explained by the carrier; otherwise, those trips remain as an “unidentified driving trip”, which is a new concept introduced under the ELD mandate.

A specific requirement is that all unidentified driving trip information is available to enforcement officials to check that drivers in a fleet are operating within the HOS rules.

With these unidentified driving trips, it is the responsibility of both the carrier and the driver to review and either assign or manage them. This will give the carrier visibility into the hours that the vehicle has been driven without a driver logged in. It is incumbent on the carrier to work with the drivers to ensure that all driving trips are assigned or explained as this will be scrutinized during roadside inspections, as well as safety audits, of ELD records.

If you already use an AOBRD this may be a completely new operational requirement for you, because AOBRDs may not currently capture this information. You may have to work with your drivers to emphasize the importance of logging in and out correctly as well as designate dedicated personnel to oversee unidentified driving trips as part of reviewing drivers’ logs.

8. Certification and Registration

In addition to self-certifying that their ELD meets the requirements of the ELD mandate, providers must register their ELD with the FMCSA.

FMCSA maintains a registry that publicly displays all self-certified and registered devices.

Although FMCSA does not require independent verification, some ELD suppliers have elected to go above and beyond because they understand the added value of unbiased verification and the peace of mind it adds to your operations.

However, not all independent verification is the same. Ask the provider about the reputation and credibility of the verification agency and its approach to testing. Testing procedures should not be limited to technical aspects, but should address the operational needs of a fleet.– You should also be given access to a summary of the agency’s findings.

The clock is ticking
If you are using an AOBRD, you will need to ensure that before December 2019, the AOBRD solution appears on the FMCSA register. Because if not, you will risk being non-compliant.

Now is the time to prepare yourself and be armed with enough detail to actively add to the short-, mid- and long term decision making around your operations. It’s important to understand what you are using and what you need to watch out for, so no surprises or hidden risks surface after the compliance date arrives.

Soona Lee

Director, Regulatory Compliance - North America
Soona Lee is responsible for understanding regulatory context and policies and technical requirements and translating them for development of the company's suite of compliance products.

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