Go beyond merely avoiding fines. Be proactive and make the AOBRD-to-ELD deadline a non-issue.

At the close of 2017, many motor carriers were able to dodge the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) bullet by having a compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) installed in their vehicles. This concession, however, was only temporary, and the new ELD compliance date is looming. By December 16, 2019, those who were “grandfathered” in to ELD compliance in 2017 using AOBRDs must convert to ELD or face the same consequences leveled after the 2017 deadline. But why wait until then to convert? Why not get ahead of the inevitable? If the virtue of proactivity is not enough to get your fleet to convert to ELD ahead of the December deadline, maybe these three reasons are.

There’s more to switching than a switch

In many cases, converting from AOBRD to ELD involves a simple “flip of the switch,” and for many, this change can be made with a simple over-the-air update. However, this switch does not take into consideration time and resources needed for driver training and education. “I think there will be some productivity losses,” says Greg Orr, president of CFI, a Joplin-based truckload, package and courier, LTL, and logistics company. “I think it will be short term, but it will depend on how well fleets train their drivers. But in the first 30-to-90 days there’s going to be some loss of productivity.” With basic systems that only record hours of service, this may be less of an issue, but even with the most entry level ELD, drivers will need to be educated on new login, editing and annotation procedures. In addition to beefing up these rudimentary processes, drivers will have to be trained on new data transfer processes. If a roadside inspector requests it, drivers must be able to provide this information through a “local” system transfer (e.g. Bluetooth or USB), or via a telematics system.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers should be trained to:

  • Respond to unassigned driving hours in their ELD records
  • Make changes to record of duty status (RODS)
  • Certify their records to indicate that they are complete and accurate
  • Access RODS data from their ELD
  • Review and understand their ELD’s printout/display information
  • Identify and correct or report data diagnostic issues

In addition, FMCSA says that drivers must be able to manage ELD-related documents from itineraries, dispatch records, expense receipts related to on-duty not-driving time, electronic mobile communication records and payroll records.

Beyond the time it takes to learn new processes, a temporary lack of familiarity with the new system in general can cause hiccups. One Ohio driver shares from personal experience the cost of working with new, unfamiliar systems: While working as a “slip-seater” (one who drives at night and then shares the same truck with daytime delivery people), he mistakenly accepted the drive time presented by his new ELD system. The mistake erroneously started his 11-hour driving limit at a much earlier time when, in fact, the truck was not in operation. The result: the driver lost a day’s pay, and the company had no replacement, leaving the truck grounded, unable to make deliveries in the city, for a full day.

The bottleneck has no mercy

Whether it be righteous indignation, procrastination, a busy schedule or mere forgetfulness, failing to convert AOBRD systems to ELD by the December 16 deadline will result in fines and the sidelining of vehicles. And no matter what the reason may be for doing so, waiting until the last minute to make the switch will likely result in a shortage of needed equipment, installers and fleet capacity, and it will certainly result in a shortage of patience by company decision-makers who are seeing parked trucks and violation fines.

The bottleneck will spell trouble both for carriers and solution providers. In one survey conducted by CarriersLists, 40 percent of respondents said they are still running AOBRDs, and 51.92 percent of those responding plan to complete their conversion to ELDs in the fourth quarter of this year. An additional 28.85 percent of respondents said they would wait until Q3, meaning 80 percent of surveyed AOBRD users will be converting during the second half of 2019. Some providers, such as KeepTruckin’, are wholly cloud-based, so the transition will be as quick and simple as changing a setting on the solution’s dashboard. However, smaller ELD providers may have trouble meeting demand.

PDI ELD Solutions
Best in Class – FMCSA Compliant
Switch from AOBRD to ELD before the December 16 deadline

Proactivity puts you in control and allows you to gain training synergies

Feeling a little sour about the mandate? Remember, you can get glad about the conversion requirement in the same pants you got mad in. Negative sentiment about the requirement can spread among employees, evoking a variety of responses – some less constructive than others. Why not be proactive and turn the conversion requirement into a positive, organization-wide training event? Perhaps there are some other functional disciplines that need a little work among your fleet? Bundle training opportunities to get a bigger bang for your buck. Carving out some time to focus specifically on the conversion (as well as other local training needs) may prevent chronic, recurring organizational issues that cost both time and money.

For those organizations that need some training content ideas, J.J. Keller has published “2019 Hours of Service Blueprint: Your Strategy for Meeting the Final ELog Deadline.” In addition, FMCSA has an FAQ section on its website answering common questions about the mandate.

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