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By Anna Beck, Esq.
Roberts Perryman
St. Louis, Missouri

As of December 18, 2017, motor carriers are required to comply with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule which mandates the use of ELD’s in trucks. This rule is intended to create safer work environments for drivers and make it easier to accurately track a driver’s records of duty status by automatically recording their driving time. But, the transition to ELD’s can be costly and overwhelming for drivers and trucking companies. And some vehicles may not have to fully transition to an ELD until December 16, 2019.

The “grandfather” clause in the ELD Mandate states that a motor carrier that installs and requires a driver to use an “automatic on-board recording device” (AOBRD) in accordance with § 395.15 before December 18, 2017 may continue to use the compliant AOBRD until December 16, 2019. An AOBRD is any device that complies with the PRE-ELD regulation and is not required to be registered on the FMCSA ELD website.

We are currently in the transition period where fleets can use the grandfathered AOBRD devices. But how do trucking companies and drivers know if they have until December 2019 before switching to ELDs? And is it smart to make the switch to ELD now or wait?

To know whether vehicles in a fleet can use the grandfather clause you need to know the following: (1) The size of the fleet on December 18, 2017, and (2) whether that fleet has increased since December 18, 2017. Below are some common scenarios companies and drivers may encounter.

  • If you add a vehicle to your fleet and as a result the fleet size increased since December 18, 2017, those new vehicles need an ELD installed.
  • If you add a vehicle to your fleet and as a result the fleet size increased since December 18, 2017, those new vehicles need an ELD installed.
  • If a new vehicle is replacing an old vehicle that had a AOBRD installed, and the fleet size is remaining the same, the existing AOBRD can be used.
  • If an AOBRD breaks and it is under warranty, you can replace with another AOBRD.
  • If an owner-operator leaves and a new owner-operator is contracted, the truck can still have the AOBRD if the fleet size has not increased.
  • If you are an owner-operator and you have an AOBRD installed, you can keep using it even if the carrier has ELD’s. But, the carrier may require you to use an ELD.
  • If the fleet has downsized after December 18, 2017, the AOBRD’s can be reused if the fleet size does not grow beyond the size it was on December 18, 2017.  If you start to increase the fleet, you need to install ELD’s in the new trucks that are added.
  • The ELD designation is vehicle specific, so a fleet can have a mixture of AOBRD’s and ELD’s in the trucks.

If a fleet has until December 2019 to fully transition into ELD’s, they need to determine whether to remain in an AOBRD platform for the two-year transition or transition now. Christopher Hilkemann, Vice President of Risk Management and Associate General Counsel at Crete Carrier Corporation/Shaffer Trucking, recognized the amount of anxiety in the industry, and to maintain the calm and train drivers on the devices, his fleets will wait and fully transition to ELD’s in December 2019. In the meantime, Hilkemann is using this two-year transition period to train drivers on the differences between the AOBRD and ELD, how the screen looks and how to navigate it. This will result in drivers that are more prepared for the full transition to the ELD when the time comes.

Come December 16, 2019, everyone must have an ELD under the Mandate, even the grandfathered AOBRD’s. So, the more training and information drivers have beforehand, the more confident they will be and the smoother the transition will be overall.

For more information on the grandfather clause, visit the FMCSA website,