Written by BSM, a Geotab Company
on December 26, 2017

Making sure you have the right tracking device to meet HOS compliance can be complicated. The various devices made popular over the years through multiple, overlapping regulations make it difficult to keep track of how to stay compliant. While there are many options available for tracing HOS compliance, ELDs are the practical choice for fleet owners affected by the ELD Mandate (including those in the rail, construction and transportation industries). AOBRDs (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices) will be acceptable devices for compliance until 2017. After December 2017, all fleet owners MUST use electronic logging devices – ELDs – to meet the FMCSA`s rules.

AOBRD, EOBR, and ELD – what’s the difference?

There are multiple kinds of tracking devices that have become popular over the years, but not all of them are compliant to the new mandate. The three most common terms you will come across is:

  1. AOBRD – Automatic On-Board Recording Device
  2. EOBR – Electronic On-Board Recorder
  3. ELD – Electronic Logging Device

The primary differentiation between these three types of recorders is the time and regulation that brought them into use. AOBRD was brought into use in 1988, when the first regulations mandated a Automatic On-Board Recording Device to track the driver’s status accurately and automatically. At the time, it was proposed as an alternative to paper logs, which were prone to errors resulting in hefty fines and unnecessary additional paperwork.

Electronic On-Board Recorders were brought into official standing by a ruling in 2010. The main changes brought by this ruling was the requirement that the logs be electronically documented to prevent tampering. It also added the stipulation that the EOBR must be tightly coupled with the vehicle’s engine and track the actual mileage of the vehicle.

Backlash against EOBR

However, the rules surrounding EOBRDs were deemed impractical by the industry; for one thing the driver’s status could be edited by the supervisor only, making it impractical for solitary drivers on the road who needed to make immediate adjustments to their status. Many other complications made the rules impractical and the backlash prompted the FMCSA to plan new rules to incorporate the industry’s feedback.

This brings us to the publication of the ELD rules in December of 2015.

The ELDs or Electronic Recording Devices offer more flexibility, accuracy and simplicity. The tracking device is tamper proof, but still allows drivers to edit their status (while still preserving the original). Graphs are logged automatically when vehicles are in motion. Additionally the use of GPS to monitor the vehicles mileage and location packages the benefits of an electronic recording device with the adaptability of a smartphone for easy use and training.

Which tracking device do you need for compliance?

To become compliant with the FMCSA’s new mandate, you need to have an electronic logging device on all your fleets by 2017. However, if you recently made the switch to AOBRDs, you have a bit more of a grace period to adopt ELDs – until 2019. Not all AOBRDs meet the standards for the ELD mandate, so if you currently use them it is best to check with the provider if they meet regulations.

ELD’s are promising to break new ground for fleet managers and drivers in many way. Many of the new ELD models offer much more than meeting regulations. Many have GPS tracking and telematics solutions bundled into their hardware, giving managers various avenues to raise the overall performance of their operations. Information available through such solutions give fleet managers a wealth of actionable data to make informed decisions for better customer satisfaction, fuel cost savings, and predictive maintenance.

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