What is an Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD)?

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What is AOBRD
What is AOBRD: Device History, Functions, Future


When you are looking for the equipment you need for your truck or fleet, you will likely come across the acronym AOBRD. In the presented article, we propose to figure out what kind of device it is and where it came from. You will also find out what its main functions are and whether it has a future.

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AOBRD for Sale: What Is It

What are devices for recording drivers' working hours, and why were they invented? And what is an AOBRD role in this process?

AOBRD History

Back in the middle of the last century, researchers proved that driver tiredness is directly related to an increase in the number of road accidents. If we talk about commercial vehicles, then such accidents pose a great threat, because the weight and size of a truck are much larger than a traditional car. Therefore, it was decided to oblige commercial vehicle drivers to keep track of working hours. Thus, truckers do not overwork, they have to rest for a sufficient time, which has a positive effect on the struggle against their tiredness.

At first, drivers took notes of working hours using paper logs. But this method was not accurate. As technology advanced, the first electronic devices started to appear. One of them was the automatic on-board recording device, introduced in 1988. Surely, in terms of functionality, it cannot be compared with modern devices due to the technological limitations of the 80s. But at that period it was the best equipment for recording the commercial drivers’ hours of service and greatly simplified their daily tasks. Since then, AOBRD systems have evolved as they were used. The equipment is still in use today in Canada. In America, this equipment and paper logs were abandoned in 2019 after the final stage of ELD implementation. The use of the automatic on-board recording device is governed by the rules of 49 CFR 395.2 and 395.15.

Device Definition

Now that we have learned more about why this recorder was invented, it is time to find out what is AOBRD in general. This abbreviation stands for automatic on-board recording device. Although the equipment component is small, it is a complex mechanism. It can make life much easier for truckers and other CMV drivers. AOBRD is created to record working hours in electronic form with the further information transfer to the driver's logbook.

You should not combine AOBRD systems with other recording devices. All of them are separate pieces of equipment for CMV drivers. With the automatic on-board recording device, the driver can manually record his work behavior. This device must be synchronized with the engine, however detailed requirements for this are not defined in the FMCSR. AOBRD should be able to create RODS, but how to do this is also not specified in the provisions.

What Are AOBRD Functions

The automatic on-board recording device's main aim is to record the working hours that the driver spent at the wheel. For this, the device must have the necessary functions. Like other logging devices, the equipment is directly connected to a truck or other vehicle engine. Generally, the AOBRD has the same functions as more modern vehicle recording devices but cannot display all the data in sufficient detail.

It records various data that can be further verified by DOT inspection officials. Among them are the date and time — when the driver started his driving. The AOBRD system also records engine hours. What is engine hours and why is it important? The engine hour cannot be equated with the usual astronomical hour. It is directly associated with the operation of the engine and can take more or fewer minutes. Engine hour is a unit that measures the load on a running engine.

Also, automatic on-board recording device records vehicle mileage. This indicator is important not only when it is required to provide it during the DOT inspection. Using the truck's mileage data, you can plan the next vehicle technical check-up. Thus, in the future, it is possible to avoid sudden breakdowns on the road and prevent delays in the delivery of goods. And this, in turn, directly affects profit and customer loyalty.

Can You Use and Buy AOBRD in the USA and Canada?

In the United States, the use of AOBRDs was permitted during the transitional stage of the ELD Mandate implementation. Namely — until December 16, 2019. How are things going in Canada? Is an AOBRD device still compliant?

Can AOBRD Providers Offer Their Services?

When it comes to US transport law, even during the ELD era, CMV drivers still question whether they can use the AOBRD. However, according to the ELD Mandate, all American drivers had to switch to a new logging device. This question is most likely due to the fact that today some providers offer special software that can help AOBRD devices acquire the necessary functions like new equipment has.

However, such a statement is not correct for America. AOBRD was allowed until December 16, 2019. If an official discovers the use of AOBRD instead of ELD during a road inspection, this could cause an out-of-service ticket. Therefore, if, for any reason, this has not happened yet, and the driver has not switched to ELD, it is better to do it immediately. It will protect him from fines and unplanned costs.

In Canada, the legislation is still loyal to commercial drivers who still use AOBRD or ERD. But, the process of introducing the latest equipment is also in full swing here. In Canada, all drivers and automobile carriers must upgrade to ELD by June 2021. Thus, automatic on-board recording devices are still compliant for now. However, the authorities advise against delaying the transition to new equipment. Because it has some functionality differences, it is better if the truckers familiarize themselves with it in advance and not at the last moment. However, you can still buy an AOBRD device in Canada if you are used to using it and will not switch to ELD shortly.


Old Vehicles: AOBRD Device for Sale

Today you can see ads like best AOBRD for sale. But are they worth buying and can they be used? One of the exceptions to the ELD General Rule requires that drivers of vehicles produced before 2000 may not be using the latest equipment. Hence the question, can AOBRD be used in old cars? The fact is that this equipment is also connected to the vehicle's engine. And the exception applies to cars that do not have an electronic control unit. That is, it is not possible to use this recording equipment for such transport. Therefore, AOBRD cannot be used in older vehicles regardless of the country: USA or Canada.

Automatic Onboard Recording Device: AOBRD Conclusion

We figured out what AOBRD is. It has enough useful features to make it easier for commercial drivers to fill out their electronic logbooks. Although not capable of displaying information in such detail as the latest equipment in this area. Earlier it was the best AOBRD device, which replaced the paper logbooks. Thanks to synchronization with the vehicle's engine, drivers were able to get more accurate data on their working hours than before. In addition, the device records location and mileage.

Speaking about the future of automatic on-board recording device, it cannot be called unambiguous. On the one hand, the device is still in use, for example in Canada. Providers offer improved software that adds many useful features. On the other hand, Canada will also refuse AOBRD next year. Despite the ease of use, maybe you should not postpone the transition to more modern commercial vehicle equipment?

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