AOBRD vs. ELD: Will the switch-over jumpstart rates?

The final phase of the ELD mandate is right around the corner. Will it have the same effect on truckload rates that the first phase did?

Trucks using older-style Automatic On Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) will be required to switch to ELDs by Dec. 17, 2019. While few expect the switchover to be as disruptive as the ELD mandate in 2017, it could be enough to decrease productivity, which could lead to higher rates. In December 2017, the ELD mandate reduced capacity and contributed to a boost in rates, which stayed elevated throughout 2018.

Still in need of an ELD? KeepTruckin offers the right fit for your fleet.

More than a million trucks will need to make the switch

Transportation financial analyst Donald Broughton estimates that about 40% of the 3.5 million Class 8 trucks currently in use will be required to replace or significantly upgrade the system they are using now.

Some systems can upgrade from AOBRD to ELD with a simple software update. Others will require new hardware.

"Some AOBRDs were cell phone apps that didn't plug in, and those will soon be non-compliant, including many of the legacy systems from companies we all think of as the dominant players in the industry," Broughton said.

Drivers will need to be trained

According to John Seidl, Vice President of Risk Services for Reliance Partners and a former FMCSA investigator, the biggest challenge is training drivers properly so that carriers can avoid hits to their CSA scores.

"We could see a reduction in capacity due to shippers and 3PLs who impose a firm CSA threshold for carriers," said Seidl, who previously worked as an FMCSA inspector and served on the National ELD Implementation Team. Seidl said these are areas drivers will need to watch out for:

  • Understanding how to properly transfer the data file to the roadside inspector.
  • Proper use of personal conveyance and yard moves.
  • Retaining required ELD paperwork in the cab of the truck.

Regard that third point, Seidl said that drivers must have in their possession the ELD user manual, the instruction card, and directions for transferring the data file and handling malfunctions. "If any of those three documents are missing, the driver can get up to three CSA points — one per missing document — versus one point under the current AOBRD rules," Seidl said.

For more information about ELDs and AOBRDs, the FMCSA has created online resources that include checklists, FAQs, brochures, fact sheets, and more.

What's the difference between an ELD and an AOBRD?

According to ELD provider KeepTruckin, the primary differences between AOBRDs and ELDs include:

  1. Reclassification of drive time — With AOBRDs, driving time can be reclassified as yard move or personal conveyance. However, you cannot reclassify drive time with an ELD.
  2. Reassignment of driver — Fleet managers can reassign driving time to any driver in the fleet at any time. With ELDs, driving time can be only re-assigned to a co-driver.
  3. Transmit an output file — Drivers using ELDs must be able to transmit an output file during roadside inspections. This was not a requirement with AOBRDs.
  4. Speed threshold for triggering drive time — According to the ELD mandate, drive time is triggered when a vehicle travels at 5 mph or more. AOBRDs do not have a defined speed threshold.

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Pat Pitz

Pat Pitz is the editor of the DAT Solutions freight broker newsletter. He has nearly 20 years experience as a professional writer and editor. Before joining DAT, he spent 8 years at a Portland advertising and public relations agency, where he wrote newsletters and other content for a variety of high-profile clients, including several in the trucking industry.