Being prepared for roadside inspections is an important part of driving a truck.

Some drivers work under-equipped and may not have been coached on how to prepare for inspections. With the evolving nature of trucking, it will behoove drivers to understand how ELD inspections work and how to properly prepare.

Enforcement and industry experts believe that these problems can be easily resolved by adequately training drivers ensuring they understand how to use the ELDs installed in their vehicles and keep proper documentation in their cab.


With recent industry changes, getting through an inspection may be easier said than done.

AOBRDs were grandfathered until December 2019. The exemption caused a few problems for drivers and inspectors during roadside inspections. In particular, it was a confusing time for the industry in general. This meant carriers and drivers needed to be better educated about:

  • The regulation and its rules
  • Which device they were operating
  • How to operate the device properly
  • What was required during a roadside inspection

According to the ELD mandate, non-exempt drivers need FMCSA-registered Electronic Logging Devices (or ELDs). However, the final ELD rule had a clause that allowed early adopters to use compliant AOBRDs (instead of ELDs) until Dec. 16, 2019.

A driver using an AOBRD, instead of an ELD, would be able to tell the safety inspector about the grandfather clause and which device was in use. Either would have been considered compliant.

In many cases, there were only slight differences in the appearance of these devices. The hardware, in many respects, was the same for the ELD as well as the AOBRD. The biggest difference was their software. Vehicle inspections are difficult enough to pass without this visual confusion.

Kerri Wirachowsky, CVSA’s Director of the roadside inspection program, seemed to agree when she said during a conference, “The device looks the same to me as the inspector.”

She advised that drivers be able to know the difference between the two types of devices, whether they were using an ELD or an AOBRD, and how to navigate the device they’re operating.

“If your driver doesn’t know how to do it, things can go sideways pretty quick,” continued Wirachowsky.

Now it’s important for drivers to recognize whether an ELD is installed in the vehicle, and not a non-compliant AOBRD. The time to switch has passed, and drivers definitely don’t want the implications that result from a poor inspection. This includes being put out of service (which can be detrimental to a business), fines and a lower CSA score.

ELDs and record keeping for roadside inspections

There was much debate about whether the transition from AOBRD to ELD would be beneficial at the driver level.

An ELD records more information involuntarily, and this inflexibility was thought to be a drawback at first blush. As the industry has adjusted, many now view ELDs as the most cost-effective and safe solution to the challenges of record-keeping and communication in trucking.

Driver training from AOBRD to ELD

Kerri Wirachowski raised an important point related to driver instruction cards. She emphasized the importance of keeping the correct driver instruction cards for their devices in the cab. It meant that AOBRD users should have only been carrying AOBRD cards. Now, all drivers who are required to keep RODS should be using an ELD solution and the appropriate accessory materials.

One could also see how quickly travel documentation could be confused, or lost altogether in the shuffle. The driver without the necessary organizational tools would be at a loss.

Keeping processes simple and clutter-free is important. This transition can be eased through electronic documentation storage through Motive’s app. The driver can refer back to it anytime.

“Drivers are producing all kinds of stuff roadside. Keep it simple. Keep it clean,” Wirachowski said.

ELDs simplify communication

Now that the ELD has become the standard, drivers can focus their efforts on one set of compliance regulations. This, however, does not imply any lightening of responsibility on the part of drivers or fleet dispatchers. It’s more important than ever for fleets to stay in close communication and be prepared for when roadside inspections come.

Trucking in the next decade

Furnishing your fleet with ELDs can be a helpful primer for preparing to face alternate business challenges in the future.

There are also solutions available for streamlining many of the most pressing trucking issues. Innovations in asset tracking offer new ways to coordinate a workday and protect your time and investments. Should an inspection present itself, fleet managers will not be the last to know.

On-the-road perspectives through dashcam utilization can help ease the pressure of inspections, so drivers know they are supported by their staff in real-time situations. Dashcams have even proved to be key for driver exoneration in the event of a collision. The more safety methods your fleet has on its side, the better.

With the correct resources on hand, roadside inspections can be an anxiety-free occurrence in the life of a driver. Preparing for the challenge of inspections can remove paranoia and help bring the focus back to the road.

Roadside inspection driver tips

Here are a few tips to help drivers with roadside inspections.

  • Know your device. Drivers should have made the transition by now from AOBRD to ELDs. They should be trained to use the device correctly.
  • Know your vehicle. Maintenance violations account for many inspection failures. Address vehicle health issues and fault codes when they occur or report them to your fleet.
  • In case an ELD malfunctions, remember that you have eight days to resolve that issue. In such a scenario, reliable technical support and fast response time by your ELD vendor become crucial.
  • The CVSA outlined driver and officer responsibilities during roadside inspections when drivers are using ELDs. Make sure you have read and understood the requirements.
  • Reproducing the entire week can be an issue for drivers. Using the Motive Electronic Logbook App can simplify that process.

Further reading: How Motive helps short-haul drivers with the driver workload report.

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