The Battle Between AOBRDs vs. ELDs: What’s the Difference?

difference between aobrds and elds for trucks

Talk of using AOBRDs until December 2019 instead of investing upfront in ELDs has been increasing among drivers, owner-operators, and fleet managers as the December 18th ELD deadline nears.

We discuss the difference between ELDs and AOBRDs and pick a winner.

  1. Vehicle Metrics Recorded

AOBRDs record:

  • Engine use
  • Road speed
  • Miles driven
  • Date and time

ELDs record:

  • Engine power status
  • Vehicle motion status
  • Total miles driven
  • Total engine hours
  • Engine power status
  • Vehicle speed
  • Vehicle location

On the surface, you can already see the first difference between these devices in the depth of data that they record.

ELDs are more sophisticated and advanced because they create RODS each time they detect a change in duty status, when the engine is turned on/off, at the start of personal conveyance and yard moves, and at 60-minute intervals while driving.

ELDs also self-monitor for diagnostics and malfunctions.

  1.  Extent of Regulations

AOBRDs have much looser regulations compared to ELDs in all areas.

Locations, log edit history, drive time editing, and mode of communication are all features that AOBRDs fail to provide updated regulations for.

These devices have been around since the 1980s, and as such the regulations surrounding them have not been updated frequently.

This has created a vague grey area in regard to the manipulation of data on the devices, due to their lack of an accurate display of log edit history and detailed communication method.

ELDs are a much more recent development, heavily regulated by the FMCSA (for better or worse).

But, one positive side effect of this though is that these devices are much more standardized in terms of their feature set.

There is a large list of requirements that EVERY ELD must adhere to, otherwise, they will not be legal beginning December 18th, 2017.

This way, you know what to expect in terms of core features.

Where ELD providers differentiate themselves in with features such as geofencing, co-driver support, and integration with existing fleet management platforms.

ELDs also have no foreseen expiration date, compared to the AOBRD “grandfather clause”, which will make AOBRDs obsolete starting in December 2019.

  1.   Functionality

AOBRDs are much more limited in their functionality and feature set compared to ELDs, perhaps this is due to their age.

A critical area where these devices fumble is in addressing HOS alerts.

AOBRDs are not required to alert drivers if approaching an HOS threshold, or even if they receive an HOS violation at all.

AOBRDs don’t even have to display a graph grid for drivers either, they don’t determine a default duty status, and they don’t deal with “unassigned driving” time.

This leads to more work needed on the driver’s part when logging and editing.

Armed with just their standard features, ELDs already beat their older counterparts.

But with the optional additions many ELD providers bring to the table, it only furthers the divide between the 2 devices.

For example, ELDs account for more variation in duty statuses, providing functionality for when drivers use special duty statuses such as “personal conveyance” and “yard move”.

Driver edits and certifications for daily logs are also featured, which upgrades the accuracy and security of drivers’ logs when compared to AOBRDs.

WINNER: ELDs, by a long shot.

As you can see, the differences between AOBRDs and ELDs are easily apparent.

The problem with AOBRDs is that they are only a temporary solution, and in terms of features, they fall short compared to ELDs.

For those who have read this article and are still considering AOBRDs: why waste the money buying them when you have to buy ELDs in 2 years anyway?



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