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Trucking: Are AOBRD devices still compliant with ELD?

In the trucking industry, there are several guidelines that all companies need to comply with, such as the ELD mandate. This rule was created by the United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2016. Electronic logging devices (ELD) makes it easier for businesses to track and record the activity of both the vehicle and the driver. Now the problem is what happens to the Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD). Are they still compliant? Let’s find out.

What is the difference between an AOBRD and ELD?

Before answering the question, let’s discuss the two different devices first. The main difference between the two is that ELD tracks, records, and e-logs more information compared with an AOBRD. Unlike AOBRDs, ELDs can note changes in the driver’s duty status, determine vehicle and driver’s location, and Engine Control Module (ECM) information.

AOBRD is a much earlier version of the modern and advanced ELD. Both devices need to be connected directly to the vehicle’s engine.

Understanding the ELD mandate

The ELD mandate, also known as the ELD Final Rule, is a regulation that requires all commercial motor vehicles to use electronic logging devices (ELDs). There are specific rules that trucking companies need to follow, like allowing drivers to be on duty only for a maximum number of hours daily with several rest periods in between. The reason behind such a rule is that drivers are human beings that can get exhausted after long hours of driving. Once they are fatigued, there is a higher chance of them getting into an accident.

There have been many cases of motor vehicle accidents due to this very reason. In the past, trucking companies kept and used paper logbooks to document the driving hours. However, these are not accurate since the drivers may be tempted to manipulate the hours, or there was an error during the calculation on the employee’s part.

E-logging can make the recording much more convenient since it directly reports to the software. This rule was designed to replace all paper logs and the earlier type of technology called AOBRD with the newer device, ELD.

You are required to follow the rule if you are:

  • Interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers that need to keep a record of duty status (RODS)

  • Transporting vehicles designed to carry more than 8 or 15 passengers, depending on its vehicle class

  • Operating carriers that weigh more than 10,001 pounds

  • Using transports with hazmat placards

However, there are also exemptions to the mandate, such as if you:

  • Operate within a 100-air-mile radius who still use timecards for logging in and out

  • Are a freight driver who holds only a non-CDL (commercial driver license) and operate within a 150-air-mile radius

  • Are a “drive-away, tow-away” operator

  • Drive vehicles that were manufactured before 2000

To learn more about the ELD mandate and all its terms and conditions, you can visit the official website of FMCSA.

Advantages of ELD

Using ELD over AOBRD makes the results come out more accurately and help with your insurance, and the process becomes much more convenient. Here are specific benefits of ELD:

  1. The data recorded during the trip is automatically uploaded to a particular telematics system, which managers and other employees in the office can easily access and review. Because of this, office personnel can immediately run reports and recommend to the driver which route is most profitable.

  2. Drivers may also view the records on the tablet that should be displayed inside the vehicle. This device can be presented to an officer that may conduct a sudden roadside inspection.

  3. The device can identify unidentified driving and automatically informs the driver, manager, and DOT officer.

  4. There is no chance for drivers to tamper with the data since auto-generated events cannot be edited. If there are any altered information, it still has to be annotated by the driver.

  5. All information recorded can automatically be reported to FMCSA through their web-services or email.

  6. Records the location of the commercial motor vehicle each time there is a change in driver status and also every 60 minutes even when the truck is in motion.

How are AOBRDs affected by this rule?

When the ELD mandate was established in 2016, companies were given until December 16, 2019, to use their AOBRDs. Only vehicles that have already installed their AOBRDs can keep using it. With that said, no one could purchase a new AOBRD and connect it to their truck.

Although Automatic On-Board Recording Devices include some of the ELDs functions, they are relatively less informative than ELDs, which is why the government requires all affected companies nationwide to use the latter.

The mandate was purposely created to improve the safety of the drivers and other motorists. AOBRDs meets only some of the requirements of the ELD mandate.


  1. Can a trucking company install a new AOBRD device?

  • Although you are allowed to use your already-installed AOBRD until December 16, 2019, you are not allowed to purchase and install a new AOBRD before the said date.

  1. If a grandfathered AOBRD becomes inoperable, can I replace it with the same technology?

  • If something happens to your device and it cannot be repaired, you must change it to the newer technology, called ELD. However, if it is still under warranty, you can get the same model from the manufacturer. If such a situation occurs, make sure to hold on to documents and records related to the replacement so that you can present it when you are questioned.

  1. What are Electronic Logs and Hours of Service?

The FMCSA has required companies to e-log the number of hours that the driver has been operating the vehicle.

  1. What is the difference between an electronic on-board recorder (EOBR) and a fleet tracking system?

The latter focuses on GPS tracking of the vehicles, while the former has many other features, including location tracking. EOBR can even record the driver status.

All companies have to remember that you can only use AOBRD technology until December 16, 2019, which means that by then, all trucks that fit the terms listed by the FMCSA will be using the electronic logging device. There are several ELD providers available, which will allow you to e-log all the necessary information to comply with the ELD mandate.

Brian Flores
Brian Flores
Brian is a business editor who writes about various topics such as technology, health and finance. He works along with the colourful folks that build a nation through tech startups. He is also a professional football player and video games enthusiast.


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