The difference between an AOBRD and ELD is a source of much confusion in the industry. To break down the difference clearly, we need to quickly cover the history of HOS compliance.

For quite some time, non-exempt interstate motor carriers have been required to log their Record of Duty Status (RODS). Historically, this has been done with drivers filling out a paper log.

As the trucking industry became more modernized, automatic onboarding recording devices, also known as an AOBRD, were created. AOBRDs had to be internally synchronized (or sometimes directly to the vehicle’s ECM port) and helped drivers log their Hours of Service.

AOBRDs was a replacement for paper logs and had much of the same flexibility as using paper, except it was digital.

In 2017, the ELD mandate required most drivers to switch over to an electronic logging device (ELD). Many drivers and fleets were required to comply before Dec. 18, 2017.

What are AOBRDs?

An AOBRD is a hardware device that functions as an automatic way to record a driver’s Hours of Service, or HOS. It includes some of the same functions as an ELD but doesn’t meet the same requirements that are specified in the ELD mandate. AOBRDs were governed by provisions found in 49 CFR 395.2 and 395.15.

What does an AOBRD do?

An AOBRD connects to a vehicle’s engine and may record the date and time, engine hours, vehicle miles, drive times, and locations. The display and recording on an AOBRD is not as detailed as an ELD, but more importantly, AOBRDs don’t comply with the ELD mandate. (More on this below.)

ABORD phase-out deadline

AOBRDs have been grandfathered by the ELD mandate until Dec. 16, 2019. This means that fleets using an AOBRD for RODS compliance will be required to use an ELD after this date.

Fleets that used an AOBRD for RODS compliance will need to switch to an ELD system, which will require a whole new hardware system to be put into their trucks. It also means training drivers and back-office staff on how to properly use an ELD and how to log Hours of Service.

What is an ELD?

An Electronic Logging Device, better known as an ELD, also records a driver’s Hours of Service. Unlike an AOBRD, however, FMCSA-registered ELDs meet the mandate requirements. (Note: It’s a good idea to check the list of FMCSA-registered ELDs.)

How ELDs help modernize the trucking industry

Both ELDs and AOBRDs helped eliminate the need to keep track of outdated, messy paper log books to track driver Hours of Service. Drivers transitioned to keeping a digital record of their Hours of Service from paper.

While AOBRDs are phasing out, ELD technology is here to stay.

ELDs ensure that drivers aren’t exceeding driving limits during their on-duty drive time. ELD data may be requested by law enforcement at a roadside inspection or in an audit.

A big benefit of ELD technology is helping to keep everyone (drivers, back-office, etc.) aligned. It may also prevent shippers, carriers and brokers from requesting drivers to drive over their allotted work schedule, which may violate safety regulations.

What is the difference between an AOBRD and an ELD?

Generally speaking, an ELD is more restrictive but also more robust than an AOBRD. For example, driving time cannot be changed or edited by the driver using an ELD or the fleet manager, except in very limited circumstances. This means auto-generated events can’t be shortened. Drive time can be reassigned to a co-driver, but never changed. All edited entries are recorded and require annotation.

ELDs may warn drivers about various issues such as unassigned drive time and miles that are recorded by the device and when they log into the ELD. This is because all vehicle miles need to be accounted for, and ELDs help ensure this happens and that driver logs are accurate.

The rules surrounding ELDs are more detailed than AOBRDs when it comes to how the device needs to comply with various driving events and situations.

To illustrate a big difference, ELDs automatically switch a driver’s duty status to “On-Duty, Not Driving” when the vehicle is not in motion for more than six consecutive minutes.

AOBRDs, on the other hand, don’t do this and aren’t required to change a driver’s duty status when the vehicle isn’t moving.

AOBRDs can:

  • Record any unidentified trips
  • Display the data to the driver, fleet manager, and DOT officer

ELDs are a lot more detailed and accurate, in terms of how much data can be recorded and relayed back to the driver and fleet manager.

Here’s a table that outlines the biggest differences between an ELD and an AOBRD:

Important AOBRD information and deadlines for phase-out

Commercial vehicle drivers who operate their vehicles with an AOBRD need to comply with the AOBRD deadline, which requires drivers to use an FMCSA-registered ELD. AOBRDs are officially being phased out by Dec. 16, 2019.

If your commercial motor vehicle operates in the U.S., you are subject to the ELD mandate (unless you’re exempt) and must record your Hours of Service with an FMCSA-registered ELD.

If you are pulled over by a DOT officer and are still operating an AOBRD after the deadline, you may be put out of service, which may cost you precious driving time and money.

Choosing an ELD

Not all ELDs are compliant or equal, and it is the responsibility of carriers to make sure the device they are using is included in the list of self-certified ELDs on the FMCSA site. Become familiar with the ELD rule and use the FMCSA’s ELD checklist to ensure that the ELD device you choose meets the requirements.

Motive’s ELD solution

Motive offers an ELD solution, which is an all-in-one platform to manage your fleet’s operations while staying compliant. The device can function both as an AOBRD and ELD. Users can easily switch to an FMCSA-registered ELD mode. Our total fleet management solution ELD comes with robust features and does way more than just tracking HOS. Our ELD solution may help you:

  • Better manage your safety through examining driver behavior
  • Monitor engine diagnostics so you know if your vehicles are running efficiently and need maintenance
  • Track your vehicles in real-time, so you know exactly when loads will arrive and depart a facility

An ELD that functions as part of a fleet management solution can help streamline your business and seamlessly connect your drivers, back-office staff, enforcement personnel, and overall workflow. For more information, read our complete guide to ELD solutions.