One of the most important documents in a trucker’s line of work is their logbooks. It is vital that you understand how to correctly fill them out and that they are kept up-to-date at all times. A surprise audit or DOT inspection could prove very costly if your logbooks are not filled out correctly.
What Is A Truck Driver Logbook?
Truck Driver Logbooks are not just annoying paperwork, they are federal documents that are used to track driver’s hours of service, and can even be used in court cases if needed. They are used to keep track of the four categories that come into play during a driver’s working day: hours driving, on duty but not driving, off duty, and sleeping. This shows that the driver is following the FMCSA rules in regards to working hours and rest hours. The goal is to make sure that drivers are not driving to the point of exhaustion and then putting themselves and others at risk of being too fatigued to be on the road safely.
Logbooks were created to try and make sure that drivers were getting the correct amount of rest in between their hours of service. While many truckers today use electronic logs to keep track of all of this data there are some carriers that still fall under needing to keep paper logs. Either way, it is important to understand both kinds so that you are prepared for any truck driving job that might come your way.
How To Use a Truck Driver Logbook
When filling out your truck driver logbook it is important that you leave out no details. Making sure that every space has something written in it, even if that’s a simple “n/a” will help you stay out of hot water with any DOT Inspector. They are looking for a complete page with no missing sections.
Going through each box and space and filling out the proper information will make you a logbook pro in no time. Completing where your current location is at the time of each mark and which of the four categories you are currently in are the main things covered in your logbook.
When it comes to filling out the hours of service part of your logbook you use horizontal lines to show how much time you spend in each status and a vertical line represents a change in your status. It will almost look like one of the screens that come up at your doctor’s office when they are monitoring your heart rate.
What Should Be Included in a Truck Driver Logbook
The truck driver logbook is basically a very detailed diary that a driver keeps of each day they spend in the truck. Each page includes a 24-hour storyline of how your day went and what exactly you did.
The information included in your logbook is as follows:
- Driver/Co-Driver Names and Driver Employment Number(s)
- Total Miles for the Day
- Home Terminal Address (you also will go by the time zone of your home terminal)
- Current Date
- Total Miles for The Day
- Tractor Numbers
- Shipping Numbers
- Name of Carrier
- Signature (this is a legal document, so when you sign it at the end of the day you are verifying that all of the information included on the logbook page is accurate to your knowledge)
What Are the Best Practices for Keeping Your Truck Driver Logbook
It is important that you not let keeping up with your logbook become a job that you procrastinate and end up getting behind on. Figuring out a routine that works best for you will help you always have your logbook up-to-date and ready to be inspected.
Whether that works best for you when you stop at lunch and then again when you get ready to lay down for the evening, or maybe you have a routine and are at a shipper’s at a certain time each day and know you will have some downtime in the cab. Find the times that work best for you and that you will not forget to fill out your logbook. Each evening you will want to go over it, verify that everything is correct, make sure each box is filled out, and then finish it with your signature.
It is also very important that your writing is legible. Many people are used to having computers or phones at their fingertips and have forgotten the art of handwriting. If all of your information in your logbook is correct, but the DOT officer or your home office can’t read it, then it doesn’t do anybody any good. Take your time. Make sure everything you write in your logbook can be read by anyone who might happen to pick it up and need to understand the information written on it.
Conclusion: Importance of Keeping Your Truck Driver Logbook Accurate and Up-to-Date
There are many reasons to keep your truck driver logbook pages accurate and up-to-date. Not only is it a federal requirement, but it can also save you from violations, hefty fines, and hits against your CSA score. By avoiding these you will also reward yourself with better insurance rates, stronger relationships with shippers, and overall good practices you could use in training any new drivers you might use going forward.
If you are ever pulled over for a DOT inspection your truck driver logbooks will be one of the first things the officer asks for. If you have a routine and know that all of your information is accurate and up-to-date this part will be a breeze for you and for the officer. This can also show the officer that you take your business seriously and may help you with the other parts of the inspection as well.
When you sign your truck driver logbook at the end of each day you are making yourself liable for the information that is included in it. These logbook pages can be used in court in instances where an accident is involved. Keeping the information accurate helps to protect you in these extreme cases.
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