AOBRD to ELD: Busting six common myths

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The clock is ticking as the December 16, 2019 deadline for fleets to transition from Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AOBRD) to Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) approaches. By that date, all interstate commercial motor vehicles must be compliant with the final ELD rule.

Although there are some ELD compliance exemptions, most interstate truck drivers must have an ELD that interfaces with Engine Control Model (ECM) data to automatically capture engine power status, vehicle motion status, miles driven and engine hours. While many fleets have already begun making the switch from outdated AOBRDs to ELDs, the migration has been a challenging process fraught with resistance for others.

Behind this hesitation are some common misperceptions that have held some trucking fleets back from embracing ELDs. In our webinar AOBRD to ELD: Making the Move Before Time Runs Out -  we covered important timeline milestones, highlighted the hidden benefits of ELD technology and debunked the top six myths of transitioning to ELDs. Let’s take a closer look:

Myth #1: The ELD rule does not apply to me.

For the majority of commercial vehicle drivers, the new ELD mandate is a must. The ELD rule applies to most motor carriers in the United States, and to Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers, currently required to maintain records of duty status (RODS).

 In general, if a commercial vehicle requires a USDOT number, it also needs an ELD. This includes vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight greater than 10,000 lbs., are used for transporting products or people for interstate business and those that transport regulated hazardous goods with an electronic recording of a driver’s RODS. 

There are a few exceptions to the rule, where drivers are exempt from using an ELD and can continue maintaining a paper log book. For example, drivers who operate less than eight days out of a 30-day period can use paper RODs. Those who conduct a drive-away-tow-away operation and drivers of vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000 are also exempt from ELD compliance.

Myth #2: ELDs are an invasion of driver privacy.

Contrary to popular belief, ELDs do not report driver violations. The truth is that only carriers can access the driver log files, and the government does not have direct access to the vehicle location or hours of service violations. However, when requested during a roadside inspection or an audit, ELD data can be quickly transferred to the government to comply with the law.

Myth #3: ELDs are distracting to drivers.

Once a vehicle is in motion, an ELD will automatically assign a driver the appropriate status (i.e. "driving" or "on duty"). The driver does not need to interact with the ELD except to log in and change their status to "off duty" or "in sleeper."

The evidence in favor of how ELDs can actually improve driver safety is growing. In fact, research has shown that trucks equipped with an ELD reduced their total crash rate by 11.7% and lowered their preventable crash rate by 5.1%.1 While drivers may still need to identify special driving categories like yard movements or personal conveyance, other distractions are reduced significantly so that drivers can focus on what they do best: drive. 

Myth #4: ELDs increase operational costs.

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Compared to other operational expenses like fuel, maintenance and equipment, ELDs are a relatively low-cost solution. Prices have dropped considerably over the years since ELDs were first introduced, and there have been a number of notable improvements in the technology.

Outside of reducing traditional operational expenses, one of the biggest hidden benefits of an ELD is increased productivity, often by as much as 30%.2  Use of a reliable ELD  is a firm step towards both time and cost savings. It reduces burdensome paperwork and manual processes and gives more immediate visibility into driver status and hours, which helps in better utilization of resources. Getting drivers out of the yard with the right loads, at the right time and to the right destination goes a long way towards lowering operational costs and increasing profitability.

Myth #5:  Hours of Service (HOS) compliance is the only true benefit of ELD.

This, too, is false. ELD technology can collect a whole lot more. For example, an ELD can capture and report vehicle metrics and driver behavior data, as well as provide electronic vehicle inspections assistance, navigation support and job management tools.

As part of an ELD, these fleet management features can help managers support drivers in their daily routines. Drivers will gain more control over their time, letting them create, edit and manage their own hours; plus, today’s newer ELDs integrate within other key telematics technologies and provide drivers with even more ways to stay compliant. In addition to HOS compliance tools, managers gain near real-time driver feedback, driver vehicle inspection reporting (DVIR) and IFTA mileage reporting.

Myth #6: Change management will be a tall task.

Think of it this way: the hours a driver spent dealing with paper to manually log their hours can now be used for training and development. With an ELD, they can simply interact with the system, get on the road as quickly as possible and let technology take care of the rest. So, the extra time invested in fleet training now will yield significant rewards down the road. 

One critical step to successful ELD migration is to select a partner whose product supports full Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliance. Choosing the right solution provider can make or break proper ELD compliance. Make sure that the provider is knowledgeable about how to support ELD regulations with an easy-to-use solution and tools that are simple to integrate/transition into current operations. A learning curve is normal, but you shouldn’t need a Ph.D. to get the most out of an ELD.

Don't delay, migrate today

Moving away from an AOBRD to an ELD doesn’t have to be a mystery. By putting these popular misperceptions into proper perspective, you’ll be well on your way to migrating sooner than later. Start by installing the new hardware in your fleet vehicles now, as not waiting until the last minute gives your drivers time to adjust before the new rule takes effect. It also gives your business time to work with your ELD partner to get proper training and to adopt new processes to ease the transition. 

Download our eBook now to help put your business on the fastest path to ELD compliance.

1 https://ntl.bts.gov/lib/51000/51800/51846/13-059 Evaluating_the_Potential_Safety_Benefits_of_Electronic_HOS--Full_Report.pdf

 2 https://www.techvalidate.com/tvid/4AF-F2A-40F

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