AOBRDs Are Coming to an End

Remember back, what seems like way back, to December 2017. It was then the new USA law for ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) came into to effect. It seems so very long ago.

In October and November of 2017, trucking companies rushed to install AOBRDs (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices) into their units. If the unit was installed before December of 2017, the trucking company would have two years to update to an ELD system.

Some other companies choose to go a slightly different route. They decided to install an ELD that didn’t meet the FMCSR standard for ELDs. These devices allow truck drivers to alter their logbook illegally and the changes are from the recording system.

I certainly underestimated the number of companies that would choose to use AOBRDs at the very last minute. Thousands of units throughout the trucking industry were installed and most of the companies elected to go with non-compliant AOBRDs instead of light ELDs.

The owners of these companies tell me that it was driver driven. Owners said to me that they feared that if they installed an ELD, which would require a driver to run legal, that they would lose drivers. And I had some drivers confirm this statement. Some people (owners and drivers) think that if they can’t cheat the Hours of Service then they can’t make any money. What a thought process. If we can’t cheat and steal, it is not worth our effort to truck. Hogwash!

I can think of a few problems with the above thoughts. First, many small and medium-sized companies do run ELDs and comply with the Hours of Service rules/regulations and are profitable. Mmhhh! Run legal and make money, what a concept.

Secondly, for these legal and profitable companies, who is operating the truck? It must be a driver since we don’t have an autonomous driving vehicle yet. So, they didn’t lose drivers. They are still operating and servicing their customers and shippers. And they can sleep at night.

AOBRDs and the illegal ELDs are coming to an end. The end is near.

For the illegal ELDs, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is watching out for you. But maybe the more significant threat is from the insurers. The insurance companies know the brands of ELDs that don’t comply with the regulations and are pressuring the trucking company to switch to an ELD provider that does it legally. I know of one insurer that gave a trucking client 30 days in which to either change ELDs or their insurance company. It is the trucking company’s choice. I also read recently that there are more than 400 ELD self-certified providers and a significant percentage are not compliant. The estimate is around 20% of the ELD manufactures didn’t meet the FMCSR standards. The authorities and insurers are cracking down.

As for the legal AOBRDs, these units must be swapped out or changed for an ELD by December of 2019 which is just months away. An ELD provider told me that they are expecting a massive surge in business. This person thinks that the influx will be even more extensive than in December 2017.

Why am I so happy that we will finally have ELDs across the board (at least in the trucks running the USA)? If we can finally get rid of the expectation that a driver has to lie and cheat to make up for other inefficient shipping practices, maybe the trucking industry will start to pay a driver what he/she is worth. It has been too long that the drivers cover for the shippers. Drivers are still getting abused by the shippers and receivers. Many drivers are not getting paid for excessive waiting times and are expected to edit the AOBRD or illegal ELD to make it all work. I’m all for paying the truck driver for the work that they perform, and I don’t think that a driver should have to lie to make decent earnings.

Be safe out there!

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.