The number of carriers that report still using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) four months out from the government-mandated switch to electronic logging devices (ELDs) continues to yo-yo between 7 percent and 10 percent.
This number changes slightly week-to-week because FreightWaves, in partnership with CarrierLists and EROAD, surveys a new batch of carriers about their devices each week. The surveys are designed to track the migration from AOBRDs to ELDs over time.
The three-week moving average of carriers that have not yet installed ELDs in their trucks is currently sitting at 8 percent. This is up from 7 percent last week but still down from two weeks ago. The number of carriers resisting ELDs dropped below 10 percent for the first time during the week of July 23 and has not risen above that number again.
This week’s survey garnered 195 responses. Of the respondents, 178 said they were already running ELDs, while 17 were still using AOBRDs.
Small fleets and owner-operators continue to be the ELD holdouts. Last week, all fleets that reported running AOBRDs consisted of under 35 trucks. This week, that number dropped to 30 trucks. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including the length of lanes serviced, the cost of equipment and the generally suspicious attitude toward new technologies.
Throughout the surveys, regional and super-regional fleets have reported lower compliance numbers than their nationwide peers. Over the past few weeks, super-regional fleets have all but closed that gap. Regional fleets, however, continue to lag significantly behind. While nationwide fleets report 98 percent compliance and super-regional fleets report 95 percent compliance, regional fleets report just 86 percent compliance.
These results align with the survey’s other findings because, as a general rule, smaller fleets tend to run in shorter lanes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) suggests all carriers make the switch well ahead of the December 16 deadline in order to avoid slowdowns and tickets on the highway.
“FMCSA is encouraged that a growing number of carriers are converting to ELDs. The agency knows this is a time of transition for the industry and wants to be helpful during the continued implementation,” an FMCSA spokesman said. “FMCSA strongly recommends that carriers do not wait until the December 16, 2019 deadline to ensure vendors aren’t inundated during the final days of the transition.”
Most carriers surveyed that have not already made the switch from AOBRDs to ELDs are planning to wait until the fourth quarter to do so. Only 14 percent said they plan to switch in August or September, while 30 percent are planning to switch in October, 32 percent in November and 24 percent in December.
“We’ve heard a lot of reasons for delaying the transfer to ELDs. Some are leveraging their AOBRD investment as long as possible. Others are avoiding issues related to the transition as long as possible, which is understandable,” said Heather Woodruff, EROAD’s manager of customer success. “However, moving at the last minute is going to make it harder to compare solutions and do trials to find the best ELD solution for your operation and your drivers, which is critical to consistent compliance and safety.”
How much lead time a carrier realistically needs to allow when making the transition from AOBRDs to ELDs depends on the size of the fleet, the carrier’s current hardware and existing training protocols.
Small carriers do have an advantage over larger carriers when it comes to pushing the deadline because there are fewer employees to train. This is especially true if the carrier is not planning to install new hardware in its trucks. There are several popular telematics devices that can be used in AOBRD mode or ELD mode, meaning carriers can make the switch at the push of a button. For carriers in this situation, waiting until the early part of the fourth quarter is probably not too much of a gamble.
Still, AOBRDs and ELDs do not function in the exact same manner, and both drivers and back office staff will need to be trained on how to use the devices in ELD mode. This required training, especially surrounding topics like personal conveyance, make it risky to wait until December to make the change, regardless of a carrier’s current hardware.
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.