Truck drivers are required to follow the rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when it comes to the number of consecutive hours they are allowed to drive without taking a break.
The truck driver logbook is one of the most critical documents necessary for a truck accident case. Why is that?
This book is an actual log of each time the driver took a break from driving. It is also a record of the hours driven by the driver. Our Miami truck accident attorney explains why the truck driver logbook is essential in accident cases.
Hour restrictions are essential because they help avoid driver fatigue, one of the most common causes of commercial truck accidents. While spending most of their working hours on the road, truck drivers are expected to keep tight loading and unloading deadlines, a pressure that might them to their limits and ignore rest time. Driver fatigue may lead to loss of concentration, drowsiness, unsafe maneuvering, or even dozing off behind the wheel, leading to major, even catastrophic, truck incidents.
The FMCSA sets forth restrictions for the number of hours truck drivers can drive without taking a break. The hours of service (HOS) limits are set with consideration to daily and weekly restrictions.
Daily hour restrictions for long-haul drivers are as follows:
- Truck drivers are required to take a break of at least 30 minutes per 8 driven hours
- They can drive for 11 consecutive hours after having ten hours of non-driving time.
- They can drive for up to 14 consecutive hours if they take a break of ten straight hours.
Weekly hours restrictions require long-haul truck drivers to:
- Drive no more than 60 hours per a 7-day week, and 70 service hours per an 8-day week
- Take a rest of 34 off-duty hours after the 70 hours of service
- Insert at least two intervals between 1:00-5:00 am into their 34 off-duty rest period
Logs Ensure Rest
One of the most important reasons that a truck driver's logbook is used in an accident case is to look at the rest taken by the driver involved in the crash. Truck driver logbooks ensure that drivers:
- Are getting the rest required by law.
- Are not continuing to drive past the states' FMCSA regulations.
If the log does not show the necessary time off from driving for the driver who was involved in an accident, the truck accident case could wind up being an open-and-shut one.
Logs Show Violations
A truck driver's logbook is a clear record that is crucial evidence in a commercial truck accident. All accident investigations will aim to determine liability and include checking and analyzing the logbook.
Logbook data that can be used in a personal injury claim involving a commercial truck accident include:
- Violation of hour restrictions. If the truck driver did not adhere to the rules for hours of service (HOS), they could be held liable for the accident.
- Mile coverage. The information about miles covered during service hours can also prove the violation of the hour restriction.
- Rest time. Truck drivers can only perform their work safely if they adhere to the rules and regulations of rest time. If proven, driver fatigue may be the grounds for the truck driver to be liable for the accident.
- Inspection reports. Records of inspections performed can also help prove liability for the accident. Checks need to be completed correctly and with the frequency required by law. The lack of inspection logs in the logbooks may also prove the truck driver's negligence and, thus, liability in the incident.
If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, the first thing an attorney will want to look at is the truck driver's logbook for the following reasons:
- A personal injury lawyer knows what to look for when finding logbook violations.
- Some truck drivers will alter their logbook to make it appear like they took the required rest period after driving for 11 or 14 consecutive hours.
However, If the truck was not at fault in the accident, the logbook may also be the means to prove that no negligence was involved on their side.
The Electronic On-Board Recorder
There is a device that more and more trucking companies are installing in their trucks, and it is known as the Electronic On-Board Recorder (EOBR). This is an electronic device that monitors the driver's:
- Driving habits
- Operational times
It is challenging to manipulate EOBR logs because it is recorded electronically and not written down in a paper logbook. The device and the written logbook serve as solid pieces of evidence when commercial trucks are involved in accidents.
These recording devices became more known as ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) since December 2017. After the FMCSA implemented the ELD mandate, non-exempt commercial drivers were obliged to follow the requirements and install certified devices in their vehicles. Failure to comply means substantial fines and being temporarily put out of service.
We hope this post has helped you understand more about truck accidents and why the driver logbook is essential in a truck accident. Knowing this will allow you to get fair compensation for your injuries suffered in a truck accident.
How Do You Contact The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary?
Were you injured in a truck accident? Contact our excellent Miami truck accident attorney to:
- Find out if you have a case against the driver and the trucking company.
- Discuss the crash and your injuries.
Give us a call for free, friendly legal advice. We take cases on a contingency fee, and you pay no attorney fees upfront. We get paid for the successful resolution of your truck accident case. These fees range from 34%-40% and are paid from the total amount. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.