What is a Truck Driver’s Logbook and how can it Help Your Case?

Accidents with large commercial trucks often result in catastrophic injuries for those involved. When these collisions occur, it is crucial that a thorough investigation be conducted so that any injury victims can secure the compensation they are entitled to. Determining liability in these situations can be challenging, and one of the pieces of evidence that will be important will be the truck driver’s logbook. Here, we want to discuss what a driver’s logbook is and why it could play a crucial role in the outcome of a case.

Truck Driver Log Book Evidence

What are a Truck Driver’s Hours of Service Requirements?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is part of the US Department of Transportation, and this is the agency tasked with regulating various aspects of the truck driving industry. This includes limiting the number of hours that truck drivers can spend operating their vehicles during each workday and throughout the workweek. In order to enforce these hours of service, all drivers are required to keep a log of their driving time. Recent laws stipulate that these hours of service must be recorded on an electronic logging device (ELD), though the hours used to be recorded on paper logbooks.

Hours of service requirements are absolutely necessary in order to combat truck driver fatigue. Currently, the hours of service requirements are as follows:

  • Drivers can operate during a 14-hour window each day, but only after they have been off duty for ten consecutive hours.
  • During the 14-hour driving window, the truck driver can operate for 11 total driving hours, with the remaining time constituting various breaks the driver needs.
  • Any driver who has been operating their vehicle for more than eight consecutive hours must take a 30-minute break.
  • During a seven-day workweek, drivers can operate for 60 total hours.
  • During an eight-day workweek, drivers can operate for 70 total hours.

What is a Truck Driver’s Logbook?

For most of the history of commercial trucking and truck driver regulations, drivers have been required to keep paper logbooks that detail their driving hours, their duty hours, as well as time spent in their sleeper berth. However, as of December 18, 2017, commercial truck drivers are now required to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) inside their vehicles.

This means that paper logbooks are not the only requirement for truck drivers when it comes to keeping track of their hours of service. Nearly every commercial truck in the US must have an ELD installed inside the truck. These devices connect directly to the truck’s engine and track how long the truck has been in motion. Truck drivers are still allowed to use a paper logbook for eight days if the ELD fails.

Can a Logbook Help a Truck Accident Case?

A truck driver’s logbook will be incredibly beneficial in the aftermath of a vehicle accident involving a commercial truck. When conducting an investigation into these cases, police officers, insurance carriers, and attorneys will all be working to determine liability. In some cases, truck driver fatigue may be suspected for the incident. In order to determine whether or not a truck driver was fatigued when the incident occurred, these parties will examine the electronic logging device records. ELD records can show if a driver was operating outside of their hours of service or whether they were following the rules. If, after looking at a truck driver’s logbooks, it is determined that there was an hours of service violation, the truck driver or trucking company could be held liable for an accident.