The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put new ELD regulations into place on December 16th, 2019. This mandate requires that all Electronic Logging Devices on Commercial Motor Vehicles have certain safety and transfer features.

While there are some exemptions to these new ELD standards, most commercial operators are still required to have a compliant ELD device active while the vehicle is in operation. This is especially true if your commercial vehicle already has some type of logging device that replaces old-fashioned traditional paper logbooks.

What Is AOBRD?

AOBRD was essentially the forerunner to the modern-day Electronic Logging Device. Just like an ELD, it needed to be plugged into the commercial vehicle’s ECM port to automatically record data. Unfortunately, most AOBRDs tend to record and display far less data than the now-standard ELDs.

This often included a complete lack of an insufficient level of telematics. Which made it hard for safety inspectors and DOT officials to ensure they were getting access to all the necessary data.

The loopholes and the opportunities for operators to commit fraud in their Records Of Duty Status (RODS) is a large part of the reason why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted the new ELD mandates.

Are AOBRDs Currently Grandfathered In?

There was a period of two years where AOBRDs were “Grandfathered” in. However, as of December 16th, 2019, all commercial motor vehicles need to use ELDs at the correct time and method. If you have an older vehicle that has been out of service or has only been used for seasonal service with an AOBRD, you will need to upgrade to a compliant Electronic Logging Device or you could be subject to stiff fines and penalties.

What Features Make An ELD Better Than An AOBRD?

There is a broad range of ELD devices on the market today. Each is sort of tailored to the needs of a specific niche in the transport industry.

Some key features offered by ELDs that AOBRDs don’t accommodate include:
-The ability to record any unidentified driving and display that data to the driver, and the fleet manager as well as any DOT safety inspectors.
-An Auto-Switch to Driving which activates the device any time the vehicle is moving at 5 mph or more.
-Automatically generated events that cannot be edited. As well as a feature that requires all edited entries to be recorded and require some level of basic annotation.
-The ability to reports to the FMCSA via web-services, email or other forms of telematics.

It’s important to note that these features are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ELD mandate compliance. For a commercial vehicle and operator to avoid punitive repercussions the device must also be able to:

  • Allow the driver to log in and log out of their personal driver account
  • Change their duty status category
  • Enter a basic description of the location and the intended destination
  • Manually input information including service and duty notes
  • Make annotations to any necessary edits
  • Edit and correct any inaccurate records identified by the operator
  • Identify and report ELD malfunctions to the carrier or other support personnel
  • A function that allows the driver to confirm or reject any proposed edits including those put in by support personnel
  • Give the driver the ability to personally certify their Record Of Duty Status
  • The ability to transfer the Record Of Duty Status electronically at the roadside to safety inspectors and other Department of Transportation officials
  • Enter any pertinent comments supplied by safety officials and DOT inspectors
  • Confirm the successful submission of the ELD data by the device to another authorized party

How Much Does An ELD Cost?

Electronic logging devices have been coming down in price in recent years with many manufacturers offering special features to help independent contractors and fleet managers to track operations efficiently. In general, most compliant ELDs range from $160 to $832 per truck. In some cases, additional usage fees and special upgrade functions may increase the annual cost of operation.

What Are The Cost Benefits Of An ELD?

Beyond the compliance features, and the high cost of being non-compliant, different ELDs can be tailored to meet your fleet or commercial vehicles needs. Depending on the specifics, the data collected can be analyzed in a variety of ways to help make your transport operation more efficient as well as improving cost-effectiveness.

The following are some of the benefits an ELD can provide for commercial vehicle operators and fleet managers.

Stream Lining Records

With AOBRDs and traditional paper logbooks entering data and notes could be time-consuming. If forgotten in a single instance or there was an “Honest Mistake” in a record, the penalties could be huge. With a compliant ELD in place, the record taking process takes care of itself, while also giving operators, support staff and safety officials easy access to key data.

Improved Fuel Efficiency

With many popular ELDs usage, data can be filtered to analyze fuel use and route scheduling. This helps operators and fleet managers to identify areas of improvement for better fuel efficiency in the future.

Diagnostic Management

Since an ELD is connected directly to the commercial vehicle’s engine and computer, it can provide key diagnostic information at a moment’s notice. This can include things like fault code detection and generating fault code reports to identify recurring problems.

Detecting Improper Driving Habits

Many ELDs can be paired with GPS technology and onboard dashcam systems. The data generated can be used to identify bad habits by the operator such as speeding, hard braking, and other safety issues. It gives fleet managers the opportunity to retrain a high-risk driver before a violation or accident occurs.

Automated IFTA Calculation

Almost all commercial vehicle fleets have to file a quarterly IFTA report. In the past, this was a laborious process that tended to waste a lot of manhours. Fortunately, ELD data helps to streamline the process making it easier than ever to file an IFTA calculation report.

ELDs Provide An Almost Instant Return On Investment

When you take into account all these cost-saving features and the stiff fines that come for using a non-compliant AOBRD, an ELD recoups an almost immediate return on your investment. The mandate is now the law of the land, and for some, that might mean making another investment. Yet finding just the right unit can allow you to reap rewards today and for many years to come.