It happens all the time. Maybe you’ve done it before, or you probably have heard other truck drivers talking about it. Falsifying your log book. It’s not legal, not by a long shot, and if you get busted by the DOT or at scales, you are going to pay for it. But truckers often feel like they have to cook their books in order to make deliveries on time. It’s a Catch-22 that truck drivers struggle with every day.
Why Worry About Your Log Book
A log book is used by the DOT to determine you are keeping with your hours of service. As a trucker you can’t drive for so many hours at once without going over time. You are mandated by the DOT to stop and rest and take breaks after your HOS are used up for the day. A log book is proof that you are keeping with the HOS rules, as every mile and minute you are driving and stopping is recorded in your log book. If you are stopped for a DOT inspection or inspected at a weigh station or scale, then you are going to have to present your log book. If there are discrepancies in your time you can get shut down or fined.
Types of Log Books
There are two ways of keeping a log book. You have the traditional, old school paper logs that most truck drivers use. These are the most likely to get doctored as they are in a loose leaf paper form. You have a three ring binder where you store your log sheets. If you make a mistake on a log sheet, simply take it out of the binder and move on to a clean sheet of paper. The problem with this method is that truck drivers can easily work out their mileage and hours to make themselves legal.
The other method of keeping a log book is electronically. As it stands the FMCSA has passed the ELD rule that will require all truck drivers to use an electronic logging device. Compliance for the ELD rule is as follows:
- Truck drivers and trucking companies that use paper logs or their own logging software have until December 18, 2017 to get compliant with the ELD rule.
- Drivers and carriers who start using automatic onboard recording devices before it is mandated will have until December 16, 2019 to switch their AOBRDs over to electronic logging devices regulated by the FMCSA.
This is a hugely controversial situation for many truck drivers especially owner operators and those drivers for smaller fleets. As a result, the OOIDA and other trucking industry agencies are expected to fight the new ruling in court. So whether or not you agree with the ELD rule, chances are you’ll have to use electronic logging devices in the future.
Why the ELD rule? Because the FMCSA and DOT are all too aware of truck drivers falsifying their log books. They aren’t able to catch all drivers who are doing it, so they’ve implemented this across-the-board regulation that will automate all log books. For truckers this means the following:
- All of your hours of service will be entered into the ELD automatically depending on your actual driving.
- You will not be able to falsify your log books since the information is sent directly to the DOT for record keeping.
- The rule is intended to prevent falsifying of logs as a safety move to help truck drivers. It is also meant to protect those four wheelers whom might be in danger of a sleepy or overworked trucker, i.e. due to trucking accidents.
Benefits of Keeping a Log
The reason why falsifying a log book is such a sore subject is that the hours of service rule was established to protect the health and safety of truckers and the public. By forcing truckers to stop for breaks, limit their on duty hours, and take regular time off, the DOT hoped that hours of service rules would reduce the stress and sleep deprivation of truck drivers.
The Truth About Logs
Unfortunately the HOS rules overlook a major issue. The reason that truck drivers are having to cook their log books is because of their delivery schedule. If you have a time sensitive delivery that has to get to a port in California by 1 pm PST, or else it misses the boat, then you have to do everything you can to get that order delivered. What if you get caught in a hail storm, traffic due to an accident, or your truck needs repairs?
All of these issues are out of the control of truck drivers, yet they happen every single day. If a driver has to sit for a longer period of time today in order to handle a repair on their truck, they’ll have to make up that time tomorrow. If they don’t the order won’t arrive on time, and they won’t get paid. In fact, they are just as likely to lose their trucking job. So yes, falsifying log books is dangerous for drivers as it forces them to drive when they might be sleepy or sick, log books place a huge strain on the erratic schedule of truckers. Sure, there are dangers with falsifying log books. But truckers are forced to outweigh the dangers by choosing to forge miles and minutes for compliance with the DOT.