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Although the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule has been in effect since December 2017, thanks to the mandate’s ‘grandfather’ clause, 40 percent of fleets have continued to legally use Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs). But come December 16, 2019, the clause expires and motor carriers must exclusively use ELDs. 

Are you in that 40 percent? If so, the time to switch is now. Although a recent study found 52 percent of AOBRD users plan to delay their transition to ELDs until the fourth quarter of this year, trust us - this is one situation where there really isn’t safety in numbers. 

Of course, it’s understandable to want to stay with a solution that’s worked for you for so many years, but procrastinating will likely cause you extra grief. Because while operational transitions always bring a few growing pains, ELDs do so perhaps more than other tech because they impact your organization in different ways than AOBRDs. The processes around accounting for unassigned driving events, personal conveyance, yard moves, making administrative suggested edits and log export are unlike the same functions with AOBRDs, and you need time to train your drivers and staff to make that adjustment.

Here are three common AOBRD to ELD transition pain points - and how to avoid them:

Unassigned drive time 
The single biggest learning curve for drivers migrating from AOBRD devices to ELD devices is unidentified driving events and knowing when and how to manage them. With ELDs, anyone who might drive a vehicle at any time - whether a driver or technician - needs a unique login. If they don’t, it could result in incorrect HOS data. For example, if a maintenance technician test drives a vehicle following a repair and doesn’t use their own ELD login, that unidentified driving time could be mistakenly charged to the next driver who uses the truck. Unidentified driving events may also be mistakenly accepted or suggested to the wrong driver which could adversely affect the driver’s actual available HOS. This is especially important because drive time cannot be edited or shortened after the fact unless the event is manually created. 

Other usage issues include drivers assuming that simply having ELD hardware in the cab equals compliance with the mandate. Many drivers don’t understand that they must still interact with the device to ensure accurate accounting for their drive and break time. 

Generally, issues of incorrect use can be prevented through proper and thorough training, clearly breaking down what ELDs do and don’t do and how to avoid common pitfalls. Allowing enough time for comprehensive training, not only for drivers but for administrative employees who’ll interact with ELD data as well, will prevent most usage-related pain points.

Edits: annotations vs. changes
It is possible for drivers and managers to make edits with ELDs. However, all edits require an annotation. And unlike AOBRDs, recorded events cannot be changed, only annotated. In some cases, drivers and managers have attempted to change events recorded by ELDs, only to find that they can’t, and attempt to troubleshoot it because they assume their ELD unit is malfunctioning. This results in wasted time and frustration, which could have been avoided had drivers been clear from the start on the differences in functionality between AOBRDs and ELDs. Comparing and contrasting what is and isn’t possible between the two devices is a key part of training.

Admin and inspection challenges resulting from mixed fleets
Outfitting your trucks with ELDs makes working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and officials easier, as fleets with mixed technology – where some trucks are outfitted with AOBRDs and some with ELDs – have caused confusion among both drivers and safety officials around which type of device they have. When the driver is required to state which type of technology is being used, he or she may incorrectly state one or the other, which has resulted in undue citations and violations. 

Having some trucks outfitted with AOBRDs and others with ELDs can also cause problems on the administrative side, as back office employees are often required to log in to two separate systems to see AOBRD vs. ELD data, which can cause confusion and reporting mistakes.

Training and demonstrating proficiency is the single most important item to focus on when migrating from AOBRD to ELD, as if your drivers and staff are confident, it will make the transition smoother for everyone. Switching from AOBRD to ELD well before the December deadline not only gives you ample time to address any questions that arise during the transition, but also ensures you’re far more likely to receive the support you need during the process from your ELD provider. After all, as that 52 percent figure shows, there’s likely to be a rush of last-minute conversions, which will mean ELD providers will be strapped with customers needing their help and limited in the customer support they can provide. 

All new technology involves a learning curve. The good news is, most transition growing pains can be avoided through training and allowing time for drivers and staff to get used to the new tech.

To learn more about transitioning from an AOBRD to an ELD, please visit: AOBRD vs ELD

Oswaldo Flores is a Safety & Compliance Product Manager at Teletrac Navman.

As a former fleet supervisor, Oswaldo has first-hand experience managing drivers and vehicles, ensuring his fleet maintains adherence to all internal and external regulations, policies, and guidelines, including DOT compliance, ANSI/OSHA certifications, and CHP Biennial Inspection of Terminals. Prior to his current position at Teletrac Navman, Oswaldo held fleet and compliance administrative management, fleet supervisory,  sales and business development roles with Pepsi Cola, Time Warner Cable, British Petroleum North America and Legacy Supply Chain Services.