Understanding ELDs, AOBRDs, and the ELD Mandate

truck driver on CB radio

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is mandating that every truck on the road has an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) installed by December 16, 2019. The ELD will replace paper logbooks and Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AOBRDs). However, some drivers may still be confused about the mandate and its timeline. Scroll through the following questions and answers for a breakdown of the mandate and how to make sure you're using an ELD instead of an AOBRD.

What is an electronic logging device?

An Electronic Logging Device is electronic hardware that’s attached to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). The ELD records hours of service (HOS), driving times, miles driven, truck movements, and engine information. The ELD doesn’t have to be turned on for it to collect data. However, truckers must log in to their ELD app or software for “duty on” times and log out for “duty off” periods.

Why is there an ELD mandate?

  • The DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Associations’ (FMCSA) goal for the mandate is to improve road safety.
  • Driver fatigue is the #1 reason for road accidents. The ELD mandate ensures that truckers have enough “off duty” time for resting, and that it is accurately recorded.
  • Fleet and truck owners may need to offer training on how to use an ELD, so every trucker will know how to correctly use them.
  • Penalties for not following the mandate include heavy fines, and drivers and trucks being placed out of service.

How is an AOBRD different from an ELD?

There are some big differences between the two.

  • An ELD displays more data than an AOBRD, and the data is easily displayed to a roadside inspector.
  • An ELD doesn’t have to be turned on and off to start and stop recording data.
  • Unless personal conveyance mode is active, A CMV’s ELD is triggered to record "on-duty” driving when the CMV is moving at 5mph or more, whereas fleet owners can set an AOBRD to start recording “on-duty” driving at any speed they want, up to 25 mph.
  • AOBRDs are not regulated and will only record the date, time, engine hours, location, and duty status.
  • ELD’s record all the above information, as well as individual driver habits, or if an engine is turned on or off. If a driver changes duty status, a location must be recorded.
  • An ELD shows graphs of duty status changes and is able to transfer their data electronically to a roadside inspector. 
  • A driver using an ELD is alerted if there are unassigned driving time/miles when they log in.
  • AOBRDs allow changes made to a driver’s data with the driver's consent. ELDs don’t allow changes to a driver’s data.

How can I switch my AOBRD to an ELD?

  • If you use a carrier, like GPSTab, that supports both AOBRD and ELD, you can switch from AOBRD to ELD by accessing your app settings or by calling your ELD provider.
  • All drivers must still carry a week’s worth of paper log books in case their ELD malfunctions.

On a calendar, circle, star, or highlight December 16, 2019. That’s the date trucks must have an ELD.