One of the most critical components for investigators after a trucking-related accident is the trucker’s logbook. These logbooks give a detailed account of the trucker’s activities prior to the accident and in many cases, revealing violations or incomplete information. Violations may help to indicate which actions or inactions might have contributed to the accident. Understanding the basics of trucker logbooks will provide accident victims with a base of knowledge they can draw on during their trials and legal proceedings.
WHY ARE TRUCKER LOGBOOKS REQUIRED?
The notion of trucker logbooks might seem foreign to drivers outside of the commercial trucking industry or who’s jobs don’t hold them accountable for their hours behind the wheel. However, trucker logbooks are a crucial safety tool. Too many hours spent driving (or even on-duty but not driving) can lead to fatigue and increase the likelihood of accidents. Trucker logbooks help curb some problems by monitoring the trucker’s activities during a 24-hour cycle and ensuring that he or she is getting enough time off to allow for adequate rest and sleep. The logbooks are also used to evaluate a trucker’s overall weekly activities and to ensure that on a weekly basis he or she is also taking enough time off.
Because pay is commensurate with the numbers of miles driven, there can be a strong temptation for the individual drivers to push themselves too far. Likewise, the trucking companies are incentivized if the loads are delivered more quickly and on schedule. Therein lies the inherent pressure on the truckers from their employers to drive too much. Trucking logbooks help prevent these problems and oversights by requiring truckers to log their daily and weekly activities and make certain that maximum hours are not exceeded.
WHO REGULATES TRUCKER LOGBOOKS?
Trucker logbooks are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations fall under section 395.8 which requires truckers to keep a detailed log of their driving activities. Truckers who falsify their logbooks in an attempt to avoid penalties are subject to prosecution. Additionally, a signature is required to certify the authenticity of the logbook.
WHAT INFORMATION GOES INTO THE LOGBOOKS?
The logbook tracks the trucker’s activities over a 24-hour period. It monitors hours spent off duty, in the sleeper berth, driving, and on-duty but not driving. A line is drawn along graph paper that has 15 minutes intervals marked off for each of these four activities. Other information that should be added to the logbook includes:
- The name of the carrier
- The truck number
- The total number of miles driven in a 24-hour period
- The starting time of the 24-hour period
- The origin point
- The destination
- The names of all co-drivers
- The shipping manifest that specifies the carrier and commodity being transported
WHAT ARE THE DAILY AND WEEKLY HOS REGULATIONS?
The acronym “HOS” is commonly used to refer to “hours-of-service.” This is the number of hours the trucker spends on duty. The logbook is used to determine the daily and weekly HOS. The following limitations on HOS are in place:
Daily HOS Regulations:
- Long-haul truckers must take a minimum of a 30 minute break per 8 hours driven
- 11 hour driving limit must come after a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
- A minimum of 14 hours on-duty allowed and it must come after a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
Weekly HOS Regulations:
- The maximum number of allowable service hours per week is 70.
- After 70 HOS the driver must take 34 hours off-duty to restart the period
- 34 hour rest period must include at least two intervals between 1:00am and 5:00am.
- 34 hour rest period to restart may only be used once per week, or once per 168 hours.
The regulations are slightly different for truck drivers driving short distances, Hazmat truckers, and drivers of passenger vehicles rather than freight vehicles. If you are unsure how a regulation affects your specific case make sure that you discuss this with your attorney.