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AOBRD vs ELD: What's the Difference?

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Since December 18, 2017, all commercial drivers required to keep a record of duty status (RODS) have had to adopt Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for recording hours of service. Fleets using Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) were given an additional two years – until December 16, 2019 – to complete the transition to ELDs.

There are fundamental differences between a legacy AOBRD and an ELD. Are you sure the hardware you’re using for your AOBRD is capable of meeting the more stringent requirements of an ELD?

AOBRD vs ELD Comparison Chart

Key Differences & Requirements AOBRD ELD Considerations When Making the Transition
Roadside Inspections
    • Did not address the format for the transfer of driver's logs to enforcement officials
    • For the display on the device, the graph grid is not required; only time and duty status change sequence is sufficient
    • Must be able to transfer the ELD data via either Telematics (Web services and email) or Local (USB and Bluetooth) methods
    • As backup options, if the transfer is not available, the ELD must present the standardized driver's log info to the enforcement officials by either Display (reasonable viewed by the enforcement official without entering the vehicle) or Printout.
    • Has your device been upgraded to be able to transfer data via Telematics or Local options? Does your device support a backup option of displaying or printing out your driver's records?
    • How important is it to your operations that the device is connected to the cab? What do you think roadside enforcement will tell their inspectors about handling a driver's device without liability?
Location Records
    • Required at each change of duty status
    • Can be automatic or manually recorded
    • Must automatically capture lat/long coordinates with accuracy (two decimal places) unless driver operates under personal conveyance when the precision is reduced (one decimal place)
    • The location must be retrieved at least once every file miles of driving. Recorded at change of duty status.
    • The ELD must display the geo-location info indicating approximate distance and direction to the name of a nearby city, town, village of a state that has a population greater than 5,000
    • Are your drivers being forced to manually record location, much as they did with paper logs?
    • For a driver, when using a compliant ELD, they can rest assured that the records are up to date and ensure that their privacy is safeguarded when using Personal Conveyance.
Automated Driving Status
    • Not required to record Driving status automatically
    • Some AOBRDs that automatically record Driving status may be at a provider's discretion
    • Must automatically record Driving status once the vehicle reaches 5mph unless the driver selects a special driving category of Yard Move or Personal Conveyance
    • Does your AOBRD have the ability to pick up speeds as low as 5mph? Some wait until the vehicle has reached 12mph, which is not compliant.
Editing Driver's Records
    • Not clearly addressed
    • Record of duty status maintained and generated by AOBRDs may be edited by a carrier to accurately reflect the driver's activity. Carrier must include an explanation of the mistake in the remark section.
    • Driver must be able to review, edit and annotate the driver's ELD record
    • All edits by driver or carrier must have an annotation explaining the reason
    • Carriers may suggest edits on submitted driver's logs, but the driver must accept or reject the proposed edits and recertify
    • If your company has been used to correcting driver's logs with AOBRDs, then this may come as an adjustment.  What training do you need to do?
Special Driving Categories (Yard Move and Personal Conveyance)
    • Not required
    • Some AOBRDs provide the Yard Move and Personal Conveyance statuses but record same information as Driving
    • Requires that the carrier must control the permission on the support system to enable a driver to use Yard Move or Personal Conveyance statuses
    • Driver must select and deselect the Yard Move or Personal Conveyance and annotate the reason
    • The ELD mandate introduced definitions for these special driving categories. Have you worked through scenarios where the special categories can be used with your drivers?
    • Do your company policies and driver training capture expectations?
Unidentified Driving Trips
    •  Not required
    • Must record unidentified driving trips when the vehicle is driven without a driver logged in
    • Driver must be prompted to approve or reject unidentified driving trips at login
    • Carrier is also responsible for assigning the unidentified driving trips or annotate why the time is unassigned
    • This may be a completely new operational requirement for you if you use an AOBRD, Have you worked with your drivers to ensure that they are logging in and out correctly?
    • Have you designated dedicated personnel to oversee unidentified driving trips as part of reviewing the driver's logs?

By December, you must transition from AOBRDs to ELDs

It is crucial that you give your organization enough runway to research and establish plans for making the transition to ELD successful. Use this guide to prepare your organization for a smooth transition.

Download this guide to get the 8 key considerations and 6 critical questions you need to know.

Why make the switch to EROAD’s ELD?

Phase II uses EROAD for an easy ELD transition
“It’s been an incredible savings of time and money all around”
For your business, waiting until December 16, 2019 to transition to ELDs may impact in ways significantly more severe than a reduction in productivity. There is a very real risk that your trucks could be taken off the road because they’re not compliant.

AOBRDs weren’t designed to meet FMCSA ELD requirements. Trying to retrofit old technology to turn an AOBRD into something it wasn’t built for in order to meet complex regulatory specs is more risk than it’s worth.

FMCSA 395.8 compliance timeline

February 16, 2016 “Effective date”
ELD providers with compliant product can register on the FMCSA registry
Phase 1 Awareness and transition –
Carriers and drivers can voluntarily adopt ELDs. Should research and evaluate ELD options, and prepare to transition to ELDs.
December 18, 2017 “Compliance date”
ELD becomes mandatory for qualifying carriers and drivers
Phase 2 Phased-in compliance –
Unless carriers and drivers are using AOBRs, must adopt ELDs.
December 16, 2019 “Full compliance date”
End of AOBR Grandfathering
All carriers and drivers must abandon AOBRs and use ELDs
Phase 3 Full compliance –
All carriers and drivers must adopt ELDs. 

Guide to the ELD mandate

In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the Final Rule requiring carriers and drivers currently using paper record of duty status (RODS) to adopt electronic logging devices (ELDs).

Who must comply?

The rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers currently required to prepare and retain paper RODS to comply with the HOS regulations under part 395. 

The following drivers are exempt from installing and using ELDs and may continue to use manual paper or electronic logging system RODS:

  • Drivers using paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30 day period
  • Drivers who conduct driveaway - towaway operations, where vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered (i.e. transporting an empty vehicle for sale, lease or repair)
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

Further, for those drivers who are not required to maintain RODS because they operate under the short haul/ 100-air mile exemption, may continue without adopting ELDs. However, if the driver exceeds the conditions of the exemption rule for more than 8 days in any 30 day period, those drivers will be required to adopt ELDs.

When does it apply?

The initial deadline to begin using compliant ELDs by December 2017 unless they have automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) that are grandfathered under this rule. 

This means that drivers using AOBRDs must also transition to using compliant ELDs, but they will have an additional two years to do so (until December 2019). 


February 16, 2016

“Effective Date” - ELD providers with compliant product can register on the FMCSA registry.


December 18, 2017

“Compliance Date” - ELD becomes mandatory for qualifying carriers and drivers.


December 16, 2019

“Full compliance date” - End of AOBRD Grandfathering. All carriers and drivers must abandon AOBRDs and use ELDs.

What are the key technical features of an ELD?

The Final Rule sets out details of the technical standards and functional specifications for an ELD to be considered compliant and eligible for self-certification and registration on the FMCSA website.
The ELD must support:

  • Automatic capture of records at certain intervals from connecting to the vehicle: e.g. date, time, location, engine power status, engine hours, miles driven and motion status
  • Personal Use and Yard Use are recorded against driving events if carrier authorizes the driver to use the special driving categories.
  • Annotations and edits to ELD records to be permissible for drivers and carriers. However, original records cannot be overwritten and must be retained along with the edited versions.
  • Detection of malfunctions with internal audit controls built into the system to notify data inconsistencies and system failures.
  • Data transfer to enforcement officials to view on eRODS by either a telematics option (wireless web services and email); or local option (Bluetooth and USB).
  • Driver HOS Graph Grid display to be available for the enforcement official without entering the vehicle, as backup to data transfer capability.
What should I look for in an ELD provider?
For an ELD provider, getting on the ELD registry is the easy part. The challenging part for ELD providers will be to remain on the registry, which depends on having a compliant product that truly works for the drivers and carriers in all manners of commercial vehicle operation. 

It is important for carriers to conduct due diligence on an ELD provider, their solution and their testing procedures. Ultimately, it will be the carrier that will inevitably run the risk of non-compliance with the regulations if the ELD solution malfunctions or is removed from the registry; as a potentially high stakes consequence, this could have a fleet running without a solution. 

A confident ELD provider will be open and transparent around the technical development, testing frameworks and user feedback incorporated into their solution. A carrier should expect a clear and supported pathway for transitioning from the current state – using paper, AOBRD or electronic logs – to adopting an ELD solution that ideally brings alongside other complementary solutions across the business.

What does this mean for me and my drivers?

The decision to transition from paper or AOBRDs to ELDs requires commitment from drivers and carriers, The search for the right ELD solution for your business requires you to ask some key questions of your ELD provider. 

Key questions to ask:

  • Will I need to change devices?
  • How should I manage the transition?
  • Is the solution simple and intuitive for my drivers?
  • Will it be easy to train my drivers and staff?
  • Will I be compliant using it now and in the future?
  • Will I have the right support from my technology provider?
  • Will the solution meet my operational needs?
    • Owner operators with personal use
    • Yard use
    • Easy installation for my lease vehicles
    • Team driving
    • Multiple terminals
    • Outsourcing back office administration
  • Can I leverage the solution for other value added services?
    • Fleet management and real time tracking
    • Commercial reporting on fuel, idle, speed and geofences
    • Electronic tax reporting and filing for IFTA and WMT
    • DVIR, vehicle service and maintenance management

How to start your transition

Now is the time to transition your operations from AOBRD to ELD. Don’t let your operations be left exposed to non-compliance. Make sure you know the 6 critical questions you should be asking from the very start.