The easiest way to receive a fine is failing to fill the driving logbooks for the truck drivers. According to the FMCSA, all commercial drivers must have electronic logging devices (ELD). However, there are still circumstances where you’ll need to know how to properly fill out a driver log to comply with the hours of service regulations.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is the importance of learning how to fill out a log sheet
- What are logbooks?
- How to fill out a log sheet for truck drivers
- Biggest mistakes when it comes to filling out the log book
Why is Understanding How to Fill Out a Driving Log Sheet Important?
Under the ELD mandate from the FMCSA, drivers must have paper logs if their ELD malfunctions and won’t be able to have it repaired until they return to their service site. This means drivers still need a good understanding of how to complete a driving log with accuracy.
In addition, filling out paper logs allows you to understand the functions that the ELD handles. Knowing how to record and fill out this information may take practice to get it right.
What is a Truck Driver Log Book?
A logbook is a document that tracks the times and hours you’ve worked while driving a truck. It is set up to show a record of your work activity.
Some of the details include your name, company, date, address, state, hours driving, hours on duty, and hours sleeping. Completing a log can be done manually through paper or an electronic version.
How to Fill Out a Driving Log Sheet for Truck Drivers
Follow these step-by-step instructions so that you can accurately log your work hours and your employers have a source of the document to refer to.
1. Completing the daily logs
Before you complete your daily log, you should, of course, check with your company to see whether they are using an electronic or paper system. However, the FMCSA has mandated ELD to be placed on all commercial vehicles by the end of 2019.
Different companies may use different technology, so you will need to learn how to update your electronic system and how to use the software.
Also, the logging rules may vary based on different countries. The electronic system uses GPS technology to determine many of the data points you’ll need, such as distance traveled and time spent.
You can just copy some of the information from your ELD onto the paper form. However, the odometer technology will also have a reading.
2. Fill out basic information
At the top of the log, you’ll need to provide a number of basic info. This includes filling out the carrier name, date, home terminal address, and main office address. There will be boxes that permit you to include each piece of information.
Keep in mind that the home terminal address and the main office address are usually the same. You will also be able to list your employee ID number so that companies can easily identify you.
3. Include truck number and miles driven
Below those boxes, you’ll need to fill out the truck or trailer number along with the total miles driven. Next, you’ll need to put down the number of your truck. Make sure to include any shipping documents number as well.
4. Draw a line to represent work-time activity
All log books are set up where four sections contain 24 boxes. Each box represents an hour. The four categories you’ll need to record are off-duty, on-duty, driving, and sleeping—next, line up your pen across from the section you want to fill out.
For instance, if you were driving from 8 am to 12pm, you’ll draw a horizontal line across the middle of these boxes to indicate the hours you drove.
These log books are designed to track what you were doing at any given time. Make sure to complete these tasks for the four categories every time you finish working. If you were with a co-driver or a team, you could indicate that in the remarks section.
5. Extend the line as your shift continues
Keep in mind that you should extend the line into other sections as your shift goes on. Instead of chopping up the line into multiple lines, you want the horizontal line to be in one continuous motion. So let’s say you drove from 8 am to 12 pm.
Then from 1 pm to 3 pm, you took some to rest. Without breaking the line, you will draw a vertical line to the sleeping section and continue with the horizontal line to track your sleeping hours. That means every hour should be accounted for.
6. Document the total number of hours you have worked for all 4 sections
Once you’re finished drawing the lines, you want to count up the exact number of hours spent on-duty, off-duty, driving, and sleeping. Make sure that your handwriting is legible and that you round to the nearest 15 minutes.
If you end up with less than 24 hours, then you did something wrong. Adjust the courses of actions you took and time spent until you reach 24 hours on your log.
7. Write your arrival and departure cities at the bottom of the log (for example:
You will often travel to different cities for your work, such as transporting assets from one place to another. This means you’ll need to jot down the name of the arrival city and then the name of the departure city where you ended your shift.
You can abbreviate the states that you’ve been to. So instead of “California,” you can put “CA.” But the city you’ll have to spell out in full to prevent any confusion.
8. Complete the remarks section
You won’t always need to complete the remarks section, but it’s great for your company so that your employers get a better understanding of things. For instance, if there was an accident or breakdown, you can write a short description of it, explaining the situation.
If there isn’t anything you need to add or clarify, you can simply draw a long dash through this section.
9. Include your signature before submitting
Before you can submit it, you have to authenticate that the info in this log book is correct by including a signature at the bottom. There should be a line that says “driver’s full signature.” Make sure that the signature is written in cursive. If there is a co-driver, they should also leave their signature as well.
10. Submit your log book
You’ll need to submit your log book in person. These logs are usually given to a supervisor or scheduling manager. There could also be a dropbox where you can have your books submitted.
11. If sent back by your employer, make corrections
Sometimes employers may send back your log book if there was a mistake. Some common mistakes like no signature or illegible handwriting or missing shipping document numbers could cause them to make those corrections.
Each company usually has different rules about when and how often to submit your driving logs. Ask your employer how often they want the logs submitted and what information must be included.
It may take some practice to get these logs will full accuracy. But once you begin submitting them daily, you’ll be fine. In the US, you will typically need to have them submitted once a week.
Starting the Driver’s Workday with Daily Driving Logs
Completing your driving log sheet should be the first thing you do in your shift before even getting behind the wheel. The FMCSA regulations mandate that every driving log is up to date based on all duty status changes.
This means that every time a truck driver switches between off-duty to on-duty, they must complete their driving log. Make sure to start each day by filling out the following information in your drivers’ log book.
- For the timesheets, you’ll need to track the times and dates on which you started your shift.
- The name of the driver and all of the names for all co-drivers that are a part of the driving team.
- The cycle which the truck driver is following. For example, they may be operating under the case that they will only work for 60 hours over a 7 day period.
- The license plate number of the commercial vehicle driven. If the driver changes to another vehicle ,those license information must also be added to the log sheets.
- The odometer reading of the vehicle must also be added to the form.
- All names, addresses ,and company names of the home terminal that the driver reports must be logged into the form.
Also, in the remarks section, the driver can indicate their reasoning if the HOS was exceeded and also when the vehicle is used for personal reasons. In this case, you’ll need to document the start and end odometer readings into the log book. Some valid personal reasons for exceeding the HOS could be hazardous weather conditions or other things such as an emergency situation. This helps to avoid fines from the FMCSA.
Terminology You Should Know When You Fill Out Your Daily Logs
There are few important terms that you should familiarize yourself with when you are completing your driving logs.
- Off duty: This is the time spent not driving. Off-duty means that the trucks are parked and not on the road.
- Sleeper berth: The driver is resting in a bed unit inside of their vehicle.
- Driving: All of the time spent on the road.
- On duty: On duty time isn’t driving time. This is any time you are doing safety sensitivity duties relating to the truck and all things inside the truck ,such as the freight.
When you’re filling out paper logs, it’s important to use a ruler so that you draw a continuous line for each of these items. This ensures that your daily logs are neat and legible.
Finalizing Your HOS Records
At the end of each working day, the driver needs to follow the standard procedure to finalize their logbook before submitting.
- Log the total time spent behind the wheel in every duty status within the last 24 hours.
- Document the total distance driven and odometer reading. Make sure to exclude any distance spent driving for personal use.
- Include your signature at the bottom of the log book, so that you verify that all of the information inside of the driving log is accurate.
How to Log Your HOS While Out On the Road
If the driver isn’t mandated to use paper logs because of the hours of service exemption, they still must track their off-duty and on-duty time for the last 14 days using the remarks section. All drivers need to know exactly how to fill out a driving logbook.
Every driver must accurately track the duty status changes and specific duty status within 15 minutes. Duty status changes are marked as vertical lines, and specific duty status is represented as horizontal lines in the logbook.
Every time drivers have their duty status change, they must make it a point to fill out their logbook based on your state DOT regulations. All duty status changes and the hours spent in every status such as driving and off-duty work should be marked on the logbook grid.
Common Mistakes When Filling Out Your Log Book
Make sure that you’re double checking your information and watch out for these common pitfalls when completing your log sheet:
Address Isn’t Filled Out Corrected on the Form
The names of the states can be abbreviated, but the city names must be written in their entirety. This ensures that your home address and home terminal location are accurately be documented.
Missing Shipping Numbers from the Driving Log
Another thing that drivers forget to add is their shipping document which should include the Manifest number or bill of lading.
Missing the Beginning and Ending City Names in the Logbook
In the remarks section of the log form, you must have on file where you reported and where you were released each workday. Even though the ELD mandate has replaced the use of paper logs, it’s still imperative to know how to fill out these daily driving logs. Having a thorough understanding of using paper logs will ensure that your ELD logs are also accurate.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve created an FAQ section to hopefully answer any question you may have regarding having a driving log.
Do Local Truck Drivers Have to Keep a Log Book?
Drivers no long need to keep a logbook around. However, their employer must have all records within the last 6 months that show:
- The total time on duty for the last week
- The time the driver was released each day
- The number of hours driven from each driver
- The total time spent on duty
However, all truck drivers with a commercial vehicle must have an ELD to maintain compliance with the HOS regulations to improve the driving experience. Having a log helps employers to prevent driver fatigue and road safety.
Can a Log Book Help You Receive Compensation?
A log book can be a key piece of information for any trucker. These driving logs could be used as evidence for insurance claims, especially if you were injured in an accident. This helps you to receive compensation from your parent company or insurance policy.
What if the Carrier Makes Unreasonable Demands to Break the HOS rules?
According to the bills passed in the US, the FMCSA requires that truck drivers can only drive 11 hours a day and have a total on-duty time of 14 hours. In addition, drivers must take a 30 minute break from driving if they have driven for 8 consecutive hours.
Drivers cannot exceed 60 driving hours in a 7 day period to help prevent reckless driving and fatigue. Also, they may split their 10 hour off duty periods with time spent in the sleeper berth.
Although many truckers may want to break the rules to make more money, it’s important to prioritize safety because studies have shown drivers become less alert when driving fatigue.
These rules are to help protect the driver, the company, and other people on the road. This prevents drivers from falling asleep on the wheel.
Sometimes, carriers put pressure on the driver to break the HOS rules to meet their unreasonable deadlines. Keep in mind the FMCSA holders the person’s name on the log responsible for providing accurate information and following the HOS laws.
Drivers who break these rules are subject to hefty fines and penalties. If carriers do place unreasonable demands, drivers are protected by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.