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December expiration of AOBRD grandfather clause unlikely to cause capacity crunch

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

About 9 percent of carriers on the roads today are still using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) in lieu of electronic logging devices (ELDs). That number has not changed much over the last several weeks, suggesting the carriers still running AOBRDs are in no hurry to change. 

Each week, FreightWaves partners with CarrierLists and EROAD to survey a new sample of carriers about their telematics devices ahead of the mid-December deadline to switch to ELDs. The surveys continue to reveal a small but tenacious group of holdouts. 

The three-week moving average of carriers still running AOBRDs is currently sitting at 8 percent, which is in line with last week’s three-week moving average and 1 percent higher than the week before. This slightly shifting number does not indicate a shift toward AOBRDs in their last days. The number changes week-to-week because the exact group of companies interviewed changes, allowing for a wider view of the overall industry.

The bulk of carriers still running AOBRDs seem to operate in the small carrier and owner-operator space, with most companies still using the devices comprised of under 30 trucks. These companies also seem to be running regional and super-regional routes instead of nationwide routes. 

Regional and super-regional fleets have reported lower compliance numbers than nationwide fleets since the beginning of the survey. At this point, surveyed nationwide carriers are reporting 98 percent ELD compliance. For several weeks, super-regional fleets seemed to be closing in on nationwide fleets. Last week, super-regional compliance hit an all-time high of 95 percent, but that number fell to 93 percent this week. 

Regional carriers continue to report the lowest compliance, coming in at 85 percent ELD-ready this week. This number is down from 86 percent last week. Regional carriers are defined as fleets that run in a 150 to 1,000 mile radius. Super-regional carriers run routes over 1,000 miles but not nationwide.

Over the past several weeks, FreightWaves has explored some of the issues carriers may face if they wait to switch to ELDs at the last minute. 

“Freight volumes are dynamic right now so it’s hard to predict what impact the AOBRD grandfather clause expiration will have on capacity,” said Norm Ellis, EROAD president. “However, experience from 2017 shows that waiting until the 11th hour to move to ELDs puts compliance scores, drivers and loads at risk. This will be more acute this time with the inspection community gearing up and not offering a grace period.”

While waiting may result in fines for individual carriers, the potential impact on the overall freight market is more difficult to predict. Total Quality Logistics President Kerry Byrne does not expect to see any significant impact from the grandfather clause expiration.

“We do not foresee any significant impact to capacity as the December deadline approaches,” Byrne said. 

EROAD’s guide “Planning your move from AOBRD to ELD” gives eight key considerations and six critical questions to help select the right solution and make to achieve the easiest transition possible. 

Visit the AOBRD to ELD resource center to download the guide.

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.