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What Is A Truck Driver’s Logbook And How It Can Help Your Case?

Accidents involving larger commercial trucks often lead to devastating injuries for those involved, particularly drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles on the roadway. In many cases, liability may fall to the truck driver or trucking company involved. There are various types of evidence that can be used to determine liability, including the truck driver’s logbook. Here, we want to discuss what the logbook contains as well as how you or your attorney can obtain these records.

How Are Hours of Service Documented?

Before examining what a logbook actually is for commercial truck drivers in North Carolina and throughout the US, we need to examine the hours of service requirements. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the entity responsible for regulating how long every truck driver is allowed to operate each day. At least, they are responsible for setting these regulations for commercial truck drivers that operate across any state lines.

These hours of service are put in place to prevent commercial truck drivers from operating while fatigued. The reality is that these trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, and they are much larger than traditional passenger vehicles. If a driver is fatigued behind the wheel and falls asleep, even for just a second, the impact could be devastating.

Currently, the hours of service set forth by the FMCSA include the following requirements:

  • Drivers are allowed to operate during a 14-hour window every day. However, this 14-hour time frame cannot start until a driver has been off duty for 10 or more hours in a row.
  • Drivers are only allowed to actually operate the vehicle for eleven of those 14 hours. The other hours must consist of mealtimes and breaks.
  • Any driver operating more than eight consecutive hours is required to take a 30-minute break before continuing the remainder of their hours.
  • During a seven-day workweek, truck drivers can operate for 60 total hours.
  • During an eight-day workweek, truck drivers can operate for 70 total hours.

How Does a Logbook Factor Into This?

The truck driver’s logbook is critical. In the past, every driver was required to keep a written logbook that tracked all of their on and off-duty hours. For decades, these logbooks were all on paper and, unfortunately, easy to manipulate.

However, as of December 2017, every commercial drug driver is responsible for using an electronic logging device (ELD) installed inside their vehicle. These electronic logging devices plug directly into the vehicle’s engine and track the hours automatically. Drivers can continue to use paper logbooks if the electronic logging device malfunctions, but only for eight days.

The truck driver’s logbook will play an important role in the aftermath of a commercial truck accident that involves property damage, injuries, or a fatality. This is especially true if truck driver fatigue is a suspected cause of the crash. Typically, the ELD will be obtained through subpoena by the injured party and their attorney. The attorney will thoroughly examine the logbook for any violations of federal regulations or inconsistencies.

Contact our Raleigh truck accident attorneys today.