Using a Logbook in a Truck Accident Case in Utah

Using a Logbook in a Truck Accident Case in Utah

Federal law requires every commercial truck driver to maintain a detailed logbook tracking their driving time, off-duty hours, and other information about their activities. The purpose is to ensure truckers follow regulations to promote public safety and reduce the risk of accidents.

When motor carriers and truck drivers don’t follow federal regulations, they put innocent people in harm’s way. The logbook can serve as valuable evidence for victims pursuing compensation in a truck accident claim.

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What Information Does a Truck Driver’s Logbook Contain?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truckers to record their activity every 24 hours in what is known as a record of duty status. They must use a graph grid to write down information such as:

  • Date – The month, day, and year at the beginning of every 24 hours
  • Driving miles – The total number of miles driven during the period
  • Tractor or truck and trailer number – The company-assigned vehicle numbers or the truck and trailer’s license number and state
  • Carrier name – The name of the company the trucker drives for
  • Address – The main office address of the motor carrier
  • Co-driver – The name of a co-driver, if applicable
  • Time base – The time zone for the location of the driver’s home terminal
  • Hours – Total hours for each event, such as time spent in the sleeper berth and number of hours spent driving
  • Shipping information – Shipping document number or shipper’s name and type of contents being transported
  • Remarks – City, town, or village and state abbreviation for each change of duty status, as well as an explanation of unusual log entries or circumstances, such as adverse driving conditions
  • Signature – A signature indicating all entries are correct and factual

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate makes it easier for drivers to submit accurate trip information. An ELD doesn’t record all information the FMCSA requires. However, it records and stores data required by the hours-of-service regulation, such as:

  • Engine hours
  • Number of miles driven
  • The driver or authorized user’s identification, vehicle, and motor carrier
  • Duty status
  • Engine power status
  • Vehicle motion status

What Rules Must Truck Drivers Follow to Maintain a Logbook?

Truck drivers must update their activities regularly every 24 hours, even if they’re off duty. They should include details regarding what they do each time they change their duty status. For example, if they take a break to eat dinner, they should record that with the date, time, city, and state.

Duplicate copies of the log should be readily accessible for up to seven days after completing them in case of inspection. Drivers must also submit the original logbook to the motor carrier within 13 days.

Federal law requires the trucking company to follow specific protocols when accepting logbooks from their employees. They should monitor all logs their drivers submit and maintain supporting documents, such as meal receipts, traffic tickets, and shipping records.

If a trucker is driving temporarily or for the first time, the motor carrier must obtain a signed statement from the driver within seven days. The statement should include their total on-duty hours and the time they were relieved from duty.

Is a Logbook Required for All Commercial Truck Drivers?

The hours-of-service regulations require drivers operating commercial motor vehicles to maintain a logbook. A vehicle classifies as a commercial motor vehicle for FMCSA purposes if it runs on highways in interstate commerce to transport property or passengers and meets any of the following conditions:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds
  • Used for transporting at least nine passengers for commercial transport purposes
  • Used for transporting at least 16 people, including the driver, for non-commercial purposes
  • Used for transporting hazardous freight and requires placards

Specific carriers are exempt from the ELD mandate. Exemptions apply to drivers who operate a commercial motor vehicle within a 150-air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location and don’t exceed a 14-hour duty period.

However, an ELD exemption doesn’t exempt a driver from hours-of-service regulations. They must submit a paper log to their employer within 13 days of completing a trip.

How is the Logbook Used as Evidence?

Trucking accident cases can benefit significantly from the information contained in a logbook. Depending on the cause of the accident, you might be able to prove the driver exceeded the maximum number of driving hours allowed or didn’t take required breaks.

Examples of logbook details that could be helpful evidence of a trucker’s or trucking company’s liability include:

  • Number of miles – An ELD and physical logbook contains the total miles a driver travels in 24 hours. It should never exceed the maximum limit set by federal law. The ELD data might show the trucker violated this rule by driving too far.
  • Inspection reports – Truck drivers must conduct pre-trip inspections, documenting the results of the inspections and making necessary repairs. A logbook report might show the trucker drove despite damage to the truck or poorly maintained parts.
  • Off-duty hours – Every trucker must note when they took breaks and for how long. Federal law requires a 30-minute break for every eight hours of continuous driving. Failing to take the required breaks could indicate truck driver fatigue was a factor in causing the crash.
  • Hours of service – The hours-of-service regulations mandate the driving limit and break times for property and passenger-carrying drivers. Depending on the circumstances, hours-of-service violations could make a driver or their carrier liable for an accident.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today

At Swenson & Shelley, we are committed to helping the wrongly injured obtain justice. You don’t have to navigate the legal system alone. Our truck accident attorneys will do all the heavy lifting in preparing your case and fight for full and fair compensation for you.

Our law firm is available 24/7 to answer your questions and provide support as you get your life back on track. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.

If you sustained injuries in a truck accident due to someone else’s negligence, call us immediately for a free consultation with a Utah truck accident lawyer.