It’s no secret that truck drivers have an array of additional rules to follow besides the standard laws most average (class D) motor vehicle drivers hold. Some of these rules expand as far as keeping a Driver’s Logbook.
What is a truck driver’s logbook?
The logbook or a “driver’s daily log” is something that is required for anyone who drives a commercial motor vehicle to maintain. The purpose of the logbook is to ensure that the driver of the truck is taking appropriate breaks and rests for sleeping. Should a driver be involved in a crash, the logbook can be especially helpful in determining who may be at fault if the driver has gone over their hours of service limits for that day or week. The FMCSA regulates these hours and the logbook is an instrumental tool in keeping each driver on track to following the rules, recording all of their on duty and off duty time.
The form itself that needs to be filled out is called the “record of duty status” but it is also called by other names from time to time, such as the daily log, log, logbook etc. The first rule of a log book is accuracy. Everything you write must be 100% accurate and true. Everything on the log is to be filled out by the driver of the commercial motor vehicle.
Even on your days off, every single day must be documented in your logbook. The log has to cover all 24 hours of the day, every day. (There are some exceptions for this rule, but we’ll go more into detail on that in a moment.) If you’re ever approached by a government official (highway patrol, police officer etc.) you are required to let them check your logbook at any time. If your log is not current to the last change of duty status, you can face heavy fines and even be placed out of service for a time. Violating the hours of service by failing to complete, or incorrectly filling out the logbook is not in compliance with the rules.
What’s included in the logbook?
The basic outline of what’s in a log book includes:
- Total miles driving in a 24 hour period
- Truck or tractor and trailer number
- Name of Carrier/Employer
- Main office address
- Co-driver’s name
- Time base to be used
- Total hours
- Shipping document number(s)
The graph grid below that must include everything on your log up until the current change of duty status, these can include:
- Off Duty
- Sleeper Berth
- On Duty
- Remarks (City/Town, State abbreviation)
If you spend a day driving and you stay within a 100 air-mile radius of the location you work, Return to your work location within 12 hours, or if you follow all of the basic hours of service rules (10 hour off duty and 11 hour driving requirements etc.) you will not be required to fill out a log graph grid.
Your employer must keep a daily record of all the times you report to and are released from work as well as the total hours spent on duty. But you are not required to keep such records in the truck with you.
Even if you are within an area that falls under an “exception” your employer can still make the decision to require you to use the logbook anyways. This can be handy if your employer does not wish to release you within 12 hours during any given day.
The employer of the driver, when using the above exceptions is required to keep and maintain the time records for a period of 6 months. These time records are required to be true and accurate and must include:
- The time the driver clocks in for duty each day
- The total number of hours the driver spent on duty
- The time the driver was released from duty each day
- The total time for the entire week (or the last 7 days)
While it may seem tedious to learn the many rules needed to begin driving a truck, it's important to remember that all the rules that have been established by the FMCSA are for the safety of everyone involved. Truck drivers following the rules, and citizens on the roadways too.