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What Is a Truck Driver’s Travel Log?

Posted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 at 3:56 pm    

Truck accident claims involve many pieces of documentation and evidence. The government requires truck drivers and trucking companies to keep many different types of records. One of the types of records that truck drivers are required to keep is a document known as a travel log. If you have a truck accident claim, you should learn more about truck driver travel logs and how they may be useful in your case.

What Is a Logbook?

A logbook, sometimes called a driver’s log or travel log, refers to the records that commercial truck drivers are required to keep to log the hours they spend on duty and actively driving their vehicles. State and federal laws limit the hours that a commercial truck driver may spend on duty or driving. Drivers are limited in the number of consecutive hours they may drive, the total number of hours they may spend driving and on duty each day, and the number of hours they may spend on duty during a workweek. These laws also specify the minimum amount of time drivers must spend off duty and resting in between duty and driving periods.

Logbooks also contain other information such as:

  • When each 24-hour day begins for recording purposes
  • The total miles a driver has completed in a 24-hour window
  • The trucking company or companies the driver is working for
  • The driver’s home terminal, as well as the main office for the carrier or carriers they work for
  • The locations where any changes of duty occurred

The logbook allows a truck driver’s employer and state and federal officials to confirm that a driver has been following their hours of service limitations. Drivers (and the companies that employ them) may be subject to disciplinary action for drivers’ violations of the hours of service rules, including being removed from service until the mandatory off-duty/rest periods have been completed, fines, or even suspension of licenses.

How Do Truck Drivers Keep Their Travel Logs?

Historically, truck drivers kept paper logs of their hours. However, since 2018, most commercial truck drivers are required to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) that record the hours they spend on duty and driving. These devices log when a truck’s engine is running and when the truck is moving, as well as some other data. The ELD is not a complete record, though, so a trucker is still required to maintain a paper logbook, as well.

Why Are Truck Drivers’ Travel Logs Important?

Truck drivers’ travel logs allow regulators to ensure that truck drivers are following the hours of service rules and getting sufficient rest and sleep. Truck driving can be physically and mentally taxing for any driver, especially because drivers already spend hours per day on the road, often for multiple days at a time.

A truck driver who exceeds the hours of service limits runs the risk of becoming drowsy or fatigued while behind the wheel. A drowsy or fatigued driver poses a hazard to others on the road, since tiredness and fatigue can impair a driver’s reaction times, perception, and judgment, or may even cause them to nod off or fall asleep. Thus, truck driver travel logs help ensure that commercial trucks continue to be safely operated on public roads.

Using a Truck Driver’s Travel Log in a Truck Accident Case

In addition to ensuring that truck drivers safely operate their vehicles, truck driver travel logs may also play an important role in a truck accident claim. While violating the hours of service rules by itself does not necessarily constitute negligence, a travel log may constitute evidence that a truck driver may have been drowsy or fatigued at the time of a crash if the driver had exceeded their hours of service limits.

Unfortunately, some truck drivers and trucking companies may try to conceal evidence that a driver’s fatigue caused or contributed to a truck accident by altering or destroying travel logs. Although electronic logs can make it difficult for drivers and trucking companies to alter the evidence, if evidence of tampering is found that may constitute spoliation of evidence. When that occurs, if your truck accident case goes to trial you may be entitled to an adverse inference, or a legal presumption that the logs would have included evidence unfavorable to the truck driver or the trucking company.

Contact The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs If You Were Involved in a Truck Crash

If you have been injured in a truck accident in Washington state that wasn’t your fault, call the Lakewood truck accident lawyers of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs at (253) 588-6696 or fill out our website contact form for a free initial consultation. Let our truck accident attorneys help you understand your legal rights and options and discuss what our firm can do to help you pursue financial recovery and accountability from the trucking company at fault for your injuries.