October 26, 2017

AOBRDs vs ELDs: What’s the Difference?


As you might be sick of hearing, Phase 2 of the ELD Mandate will soon take effect, a big change most notably for the transportation industry. However, some vehicles in a construction fleet can often fall under the Mandate’s parameters, meaning business owners should be aware of their compliance requirements.

Phases of the ELD Mandate

The ELD Mandate’s implementation is set to happen in phases to make the transitions more affordable and easier for business owners, starting with Phase 1 on December 16, 2015, when the ELD Final Rule was published. The purpose of Phase 1 is to help industries subject to the Mandate — like trucking and construction — prepare for the eventual complete transition to the use of ELDs.

The ELD Mandate applies to drivers and motor carriers that are required to maintain drivers’ records of duty status (RODS) and hours of service (HOS). During Phase 1, anyone subject to the ELD Mandate can use different devices to track HOS:

Phase 2’s effective date is now only weeks away, going into effect on December 18, 2017. Phase 2 introduces some new restrictions on permissible RODS tracking tools, allowing the use of only AOBRDs and ELDs. In addition, AOBRDs are grandfathered in, meaning they can only be used if they were installed prior to Phase 2’s effective date. This means that vehicles subject to the ELD Mandate still using old methods of HOS tracking must switch to an ELD.

Phase 3, the full compliance phase, is set to take effect on December 16, 2019. At that time, all drivers and carriers subject to the Mandate must be using an ELD registered with the FMCSA — grandfathered-in AOBRDs will no longer make the cut.


In short, AOBRDs are a slightly less high-tech tool than an ELD, serving much the same purpose—tracking HOS. One of the biggest differences between AOBRDs and ELDs is that ELDs must have integral synchronization with the engine’s electronic control module (ECM). This allows the ELD to automatically gather information like engine hours, miles driven, and vehicle movement.

While AOBRD users need to track their vehicle’s location either automatically or manually at each change of duty status, ELDs must be able to automatically track vehicles’ locations:

  • With each change of duty status
  • Every 60 minutes while the vehicle is moving
  • Each time the engine is turned on or off
  • At the beginning and end of personal use and yard moves

ELDs are also required to be able to produce a graph of a driver’s daily activity, showing all duty status changing — something AOBRDs are not mandated to do. In short, ELDs are required by law to track more detailed information than AOBRDs, helping the FMCSA combatting HOS violations.

Take a look at the FMCSA’s chart on the differences between the two devices and to make sure your ELD solution meets the criteria. EquipmentShare Track’s Contractor E-logs feature is a self-certified, FMCSA-registered ELD, specifically designed to help contractors manage mixed construction fleets.


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