What is a Driver’s Log: Everything You Need to Know

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a man holding a log paper

It is no secret that a drivers’ log is an important part of tracking a driver’s hours. But what exactly is it, and why do carriers require it? This blog post will answer those questions, including the different ways to log in.

Whether you're a truck driver, taxi driver, Uber driver, or just driving for pleasure, knowing how long you've been on the road is important. That's where drivers' logs come in. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this crucial document!

What is a Driver's Log?

A driver's log is a record of your commercial driving activity. This includes information including the date, time, location of your trips, and the duration and mileage of each trip. Driver's logs are vital because they help you stay compliant with hours-of-service regulations.

Why Does a Driver’s Log Matter?

Driver's logs matter because they help you stay compliant with hours-of-service regulations. As a commercial driver, it is crucial to keep track of your driving hours to don't exceed the maximum allowed driving time. These logs can help you do this effectively.

In addition, a driver’s log matters for every driver, especially in the trucking business. Every driver should have a driver’s log to ensure that they are not driving for too long. This will help improve safety on the roads, and it will also help avoid getting into accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandated that truck drivers should maintain logs of their hours on the road. This ensures that drivers are not driving for more than the legal limit of 11 hours per day. Drivers must also take a break after driving for eight hours to ensure rested and safe operation.

Driver logs also help trucking companies track their drivers' hours and stay within the legal limit. This is important for both the safety of the drivers and the safety of other motorists on the road.

How Does a Driver’s Log Work?

When drivers are about to start their shift, they must note their starting and ending times and total drive hours. It is also mandatory to take a break after eight hours of driving. If the driver needs to stop for any reason (including breaks), they must log that as well. Each driver’s log must include the date, time, location, and reason for the stop.

What are the Details a Driver Must Log?

To maintain a driver's logs, the driver must make sure to include several important pieces of information:

  • The date
  • The time
  • Their starting location
  • Their ending location
  • The total number of hours driven.
  • Any stops made during the trip, including the reason and the duration of the stop.

What are the Truck Driver's Hours Service Requirements?

Hours-of-service regulations are required in every driver to ensure rested and alert. The number of hours requires for a driver to have a complete rest is as follows:

  • Each driver can work for 14 hours each day, but only after being off duty for ten hours in a row.
  • During the 14-hour driving period, the truck driver can drive for 11 hours and take rests totaling 47                  minutes.
  • If a driver has been in the vehicle for more than eight hours straight, they must take a 30-minute break.
  • A driver can operate for a maximum of 60 hours in seven days.
  • A driver can operate 70 hours total during an eight-day workweek.

How Can Drivers Keep Track of Their Hours?

Logging their hours is the responsibility of each driver. To comply with regulations, drivers complete logs in a specific format that records their daily duty status. There are two ways to complete a driver's log: the paper-based or electronic format.

Logging via Paper-Based or Traditional Way

The most common way to track hours is in a handwritten, paper-based logbook. Drivers record their duty status for each day and then sign and date the entry. As the world becomes more computerized, there are more options for drivers to keep track of their hours. 

Some drivers use a traditional logbook to track their hours. How do drivers fill out these logs? A traditional log consists of four sections and 24 boxes. Each box represents an hour. Drivers should fill out those boxes with their starting time and end time for each day and what type of duty they were performing.

Aside from the date and type of duty, drivers also log their name, employee number, and others required from the company. Using an analog paper logbook is becoming less common as more trucking companies invest in Electronic Logging Devices (ELD).

However, there are some advantages to paper logs. For example, if a driver is driving in an area with no cell service, an ELD will not work, but a paper logbook can still be used.

Logging Through an Electronic Logbook Device

An ELD allows drivers to track their hours and duty status electronically. These can be more helpful because they often include features that help drivers stay compliant with the hours of service regulations. So how do drivers use ELDs to log in?

  • An owner-operator carrier must have one account as a driver.
  • The driver should log in using the account linked to the vehicle's ELD.
  • The driver will then select "Log In" on the device's main screen.
  • When logging into the ELD, the driver must review any unknown trips. The driver should either accept or        reject any unclaimed events attributable to them. After that, a carrier should draw attention to any                  remaining unidentified events to explain why they haven't been claimed.
  • Once logged in, the driver can begin their shift by selecting "Start Driving." The ELD will automatically                track the hours driven and update the duty status as required.
  • The ELD automatically records the driver's hours of service (HOS) data from their engine's telematics.
  • When drivers are off duty, they should declare their status or update and annotate their logs after                    returning on duty.
  • If drivers are on sleeper-berth hours, they should display a status or modify and annotate their ELD                  records.

ELDs also have the advantage of automatically tracking a driver's hours, which can be helpful if there is ever an issue with a driver's hours being inaccurate. Whether you use ELD or paper logs, it is essential to be accurate and honest about your service hours. 

How Often Should a Driver Fill Out a Log?

Complying with the hours of service regulations can be a challenge for drivers, but it is vital to stay compliant. Drivers are required to keep logs for every 24 hours, and they must record their start time, end time, and all breaks taken during that time.

If a driver uses an ELD, they will be required to take breaks after eight hours of driving time. However, if the driver uses paper logs, they can either take a 30-minute break or split their break into two 15-minute periods.

If the driver fails to comply with the hours of service regulations, they may be issued a citation. The driver may also be placed out-of-service, which means they cannot drive until they have rested for the required amount of time. 

The worst case is they could face serious consequences. The first offense is a warning, but subsequent offenses can result in fines and jail time.

Who Are Required to Log Hours?

Several drivers are required to keep logs, whether they use ELDs or not. The most common are:

  • If you are a commercial driver.
  • If you drive a truck, bus, or other vehicles that fall under the commercial driving category, you must keep        logs.
  • If you drive a car carrying hazardous materials, you must keep records.
  • If you are driving over 26,000 pounds, you must keep logs.
  • If you are driving a vehicle carrying passengers for hire, you must keep logs.
  • If you are a driver of any kind who crosses state lines, you must keep logs.

Driver's Log FAQs

1. Who is exempted from the log rule?

The log rule does not apply to drivers driving within their home state.

2. Can a private driver allow installing an ELD?

A private driver is not required to install an ELD but can choose to do so.

3. What are the penalties for not filling out a log?

The penalties for not filling out a log can vary depending on the state. Generally, drivers can face fines and lose their licenses.

4. How much does the penalty cost for not logging hours?

There are stiff penalties for drivers who do not log their hours correctly. Fines can range from $500 to $5000.

5. Which is better between traditional log and ELD?

It depends on the driver's preferences and needs. Some drivers prefer the ease and convenience of an ELD, while others prefer the flexibility of a paper logbook. 

Conclusion

Keeping track of your driver logs is essential for a few reasons. Not only do you need to keep track of how many hours you've been driving, but it also helps ensure that you're taking the necessary breaks and abiding by all the rules and regulations of the Department of Transportation (DOT). 

We hope this article has helped clear up any questions you may have about driver logs. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!