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AOBRD vs ELD - What's the difference?

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An electronic logging device (ELD) and an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) are electronic mechanisms that can be used for recording a commercial driver’s hours of service (HOS). An AOBRD includes some of the same functions as an ELD but may not meet all the requirements specified in the ELD mandate.


These devices replace paper logbooks that were originally used for this purpose. Drivers keep a digital record of their hours of service mainly to confirm that they are not exceeding the maximum allowed driving time during a specified period. 

Both an ELD and an AOBRD are considered more reliable and accurate than paper logs, and can electronically transmit HOS information to a recordkeeping facility or database, or make it available to Department of Transportation authorities. Moreover, electronic logging of HOS helps prevent driver coercion and harassment by motor carriers, shippers, brokers and other transportation intermediaries from demanding drivers to follow schedules that violate safety regulations. 

Moving from AOBRD to ELD What You Need to Know to Ensure Compliance

ELD mandate and timeline

An FMCSA regulation known as the ELD mandate requires that drivers of all commercial motor vehicles covered under its terms must be equipped with electronic logging technology (ELD or AOBRD) by Dec. 18, 2017. 

An AOBRD includes some of the same functions as an ELD but may not meet all the requirements specified in the ELD mandate. Commercial vehicle drivers who use an AOBRD prior to the Dec. 18, 2017 deadline are granted a time extension but these drivers must have their AOBRD upgraded or replaced by a registered ELD by Dec. 16, 2019.

This means that by Dec. 16, 2019, all commercial motor vehicles operating in the United States that are subject to the ELD mandate must have the driver recording his/her hours of service using a registered ELD.

What is the ELD Mandate »

Technology differences

The ELD Final Rule provides the necessary requirements of a registered ELD. To qualify for registration, an electronic logging device has to conform to a set of FMCSA-determined specifics related to its features, the information recorded, how this information is displayed, parameters for accuracy and reliability, and more. An AOBRD may not satisfy all these requirements. 

The FMCSA list of criteria for ELD registration is lengthy, but a comparison of capability and features for a typical AORBD and a registered ELD illustrates some of the areas where the two may differ:


*May vary depending on product or technology, but only a registered ELD (not an AOBRD) is assured of complying with all requirements of the ELD mandate. 
**Until Dec. 16, 2019 only, when an upgrade or replacement to registered ELD status is necessary to conform to the mandate.

When should I replace or upgrade an AORBD already in use?

The final deadline allows an automatic onboard recording device to serve as the required electronic logging solution until 2019 — but there are good reasons to begin the changeover process sooner instead of later.  

By 2019, vehicle fleets with AORBDs will be in the minority, using technology that most others have left behind. The last organizations to catch up with current technology or procedures can be a disadvantage when others have already adopted solutions in use by competitors — and expected by clients. 

Acting earlier can also be helpful because when the deadline arrives, the necessary employee training, practice sessions, contingency plans, maintenance schedules and other operational details can be tested and planned  out. Making sure a new system is online and operational can be a big help in avoiding delays, last-minute issues, potential noncompliance and penalties.