CMV Law: Driver’s Daily Logs

Driver’s Daily Logs: Overview

While the previous blog posts discussed what hours a driver may legally drive a CMV, this section details how his driving and non-driving time must be recorded. Section 395.8 allows the use of traditional paper logs and also permits a motor carrier to require drivers to use an automatic on-board recording device. Therefore, an early task is to request that any paper logs or any electronic file used with an automatic on-board recording system be maintained and preserved. Concomitantly, a request or requests should be made requiring that the supporting documents referenced by the Regulations also be preserved.
In theory, the preparation of logs is fairly straightforward, and a fair explanation of how to prepare the logs is set forth in the Regulations, which include a drawing of a typical paper log and an explanation of how it is meant to be filled out. Despite this, a driver’s actual preparation of his logs often falls considerably short of the ideal. This does not automatically mean that foul play is involved, and one should resist the urge to characterize any mistake on a log as a falsification. Rather, an examination of the logs along with their supporting documents will typically reveal whether a error, such as an addition error, or a falsification such as logging one activity (sleeper berth) while pursuing another (driving), is involved.
There are prescribed periods of disqualification for certain types of offenses, and a motor carrier who returns a driver to service after a period of disqualification arguably has a duty to monitor that driver more closely. Knowledge of the disqualifying events defined in the regulations may prompt questions for the motor carrier representative during deposition for which he has not been prepared, and counsel may wish to have him agree that the motor carrier will take a driver off the road once it learns of a serious charge, though it has not been put on notice of a formal conviction.

Driver’s Daily Logs Regulations:

1. Motor carriers are required to cause drivers to either prepare paper logs or use an acceptable automatic on-board recording device to keep up with the driver’s HOS for each 24 hour period.

2. Drivers are either “driving,” “off duty,” “sleeper berth” or “on-duty not driving”. There is no other recognized classification for duty status.

3. In addition to recording what they were doing when, drivers must also enter other data such as the date, total miles driven each day, the truck or tractor and trailer number, and the name of the motor carrier, among other things.

4. Drivers are required to update their log at every change in duty status. Thus, a driver who goes from driving to sleeper berth should update his log before going to sleep.

5. Only the driver can prepare the log, and he must sign it.

6. The logs must be based on the time zone in effect at the driver’s home terminal. Thus, a driver out of Chattanooga logging an accident in Kansas will log the accident two hours earlier than local time

7. Multiple days off-duty may be recorded on a single log.

8. A driver must total his hours each twenty-four hours, and note the time spent engaged in each activity. It is not uncommon for the tallies of the four categories to total something other than twenty-four hours.

9. The driver must use a “graph grid” (if using paper logs), in a form similar to that used as an example in the regulations.

10. A driver must forward one copy of his logs to the motor carrier within thirteen days of completion, and the motor carrier must keep it for six months.The driver must keep a copy himself for seven consecutive days.

11. A driver who has not completed his logs, or who is over hours may not operate a CMV until enough time has passed (for an HOS violation) for the driver to operate legally.

12. A motor carrier may not permit or require a driver who has been placed out of service to operate a CMV.

13. A driver who does not have possession of logs for the day inspected by the FMCSA or the prior day, but who has logs for the preceding six days will be given the chance to bring them current, instead of being declared out of service.

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