Before discussing the importance of log books, it is important to understand why they are needed in the commercial truck driving industry.
Because truck driving is an occupation that requires a significant amount of time behind the wheel, the FMCSA recognized that it had to set a limit on the number of consecutive hours in which drivers could operate their vehicles.
According to the FMCSA website, hours-of-service rules were designed to limit driving time, and to create mandatory rest stops.
For commercial drivers whose trucks transport goods, the FMCSA stipulates that drivers:
“May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. [Drivers] may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.”
The FMCSA also requires that drivers take a mandatory 30-minute rest break after eight hours of driving.
In an article on the Keep Truckin Blog, they specify that the rest break rule is very specific. For example, drivers “can’t take two breaks of, say, 10 minutes and 20 minutes and count it as a 30-minute break.”
However, drivers can conduct non-driving tasks after eight hours of driving without taking a break.
For example, drivers who operate their vehicles for eight hours can go off-duty and perform a truck inspection or catch up on paperwork as long as they do no driving during that time period.
Now, back to the log books. To ensure that drivers comply with these regulations, the FMCSA requires that they fill out log books that detail exactly when they take breaks and when they are back on the road.
This information must be presented to any government or law enforcement official upon inspection of a truck.
The purpose of hours-of-use is to ensure that truck drivers are well rested and alert when they are on duty, which can prevent truck wrecks caused by fatigue or driver inattention.