Why Is the Truck Log Book So Important?

When applying for a promotion, such as to become a mentor, drivers must be cleared by PAM Transport’s Log Department, which performs an audit and ensures that drivers have been filling out the load tab in their truck driver logs and staying within the guidelines of the 11-, 14-, and 70-hour regulations. All work, such as fueling, pre-trip, and so on, must be shown.

The purpose of the Log Department is to ensure that drivers comply with the rules for truck driver logs listed in chapter 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations (the green-and-white book PAM gives to all of its drivers at orientation). It is a driver’s  responsibility to be in compliance — state Department of Transportation officers expect it of a professional driver.

Many teams are working behind the scenes at PAM Transport to help make sure drivers are successful in their careers. Because the regulations for truck driver logs are complicated and change often, drivers are assigned a specific log clerk to assist and guide them with any questions related to truck log books whenever necessary.

Have an hours-of-service question? Need a replacement EOBR guide form? There are no bad questions! But before you call, make sure you are stopped at a safe location — the log clerk needs your full attention! Log supervisor Kara Hagar says, “We’re there to do the audits and make sure drivers remain compliant. I think too many drivers fear those audits, thinking we’re just after them. At times, we’re viewed as though we’re there to get people in trouble, and that’s not the case. Our clerks enjoy helping people.

“They like getting the phone calls from drivers who say, ‘Hey, you helped me out. I appreciate it. I just got stopped by DOT, and they didn’t find anything wrong with my logs. So, thank you so much!’” Hagar adds. “Those are the moments that really make it great in our department and remind us that we really get to accomplish something. A lot of it is just not knowing the law, and we will gladly help someone and educate them and get them on the right track.

“But ultimately, it’s still up to the driver to learn it, because not knowing the law doesn’t excuse them from breaking the laws,” she says. “So, they do need to get that DOT book out — they need to get confident with it, especially on the portion about truck driver logs. It’s worth not having the fine and not having the CSA score, and my goal is to keep everybody from having those points.”

Avoiding Mistakes in Your Truck Driver Logs

PAM drivers can always request a review of their truck driver logs to ensure that they’ve filled them out correctly. When following hours-of-service regulations, drivers should strive to attain perfection. If the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) comes to PAM to perform a compliance review, they will demand six months’ worth of truck driver logs per selected driver to review, looking for violations in truck driver logs.

When circumstances are beyond a driver’s control, such as inability to drive due to a road blockage at the scene of an accident, forcing them into a log violation, they should alert their log clerk as soon as possible. (Logbook tickets from a DOT officer are very expensive.) Drivers with violations in their truck driver logs are usually also listed in the federal out-of-service guide and at a minimum will have to wait out a 10-hour shutdown, which is another reason to call when unsure about the regulations. Never guess—call and find out! Professional drivers always do.

Hager also says that the most common violation in truck driver logs is failing to complete the load information. “It’s the very last tab in the electronic log portion, and the drivers usually just don’t go that far and put it in. It’s not the same as doing the macro. The macro doesn’t automatically fill it out on the log; that’s two separate things.

“Even though it’s a minor form-and-manner violation, the DOT is learning that our drivers are not completing it, so they’re learning to look for it,” she adds. “And the violation is for each day it’s missing. So if you’ve been working for eight days without it, that’s eight hits — and it’s a very simple thing to avoid.

“One other thing I see that causes problems for drivers is not planning their load before accepting dispatch,” Hagar says. “They cannot assume that because it’s being offered, someone else is watching that you have the time available to make the load. Just because people can see the drivers’ clocks does not mean they’re going to do the math for them. The driver has to consider everything out there in the road world to know whether they’ll make it or not. And it’s not just time to get to the customer — it’s the time to be done and get parked away from the customer. So, plan it before you say yes or no.”

Truck Driver Logs Ensure Adequate Rest

If your EOBR has crashed and your log clerk tells you to use your paper logbook, be sure to fill out the day of driving, plus the previous seven days, for a total of eight days. A DOT officer must be able to look back eight days to check your 70-hour rule. In addition, whenever your hands are about to touch the steering wheel, be sure that you draw a line up to “Driving” on your logbook. Failure to do this is an automatic DOT violation called “non-current logbook.”

The regulations are all about having enough rest before developing any fatigue. If you’re falling asleep behind the wheel but have available drive time, do the smart thing and pull into a safe location, notify your driver manager, and avoid having an accident that will haunt you for the rest of your life. When it’s sleeper-berth time, get in there and get a restful sleep. Forget your phone, your computer games, and your books. That is what professional drivers do.

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