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What Is a Truck Driver’s Travel Log?

Whether it is written or electronic, all truck drivers are required to keep a record of the time they spend on the road. Federal and state laws mandate how many hours a driver can spend behind the wheel and when breaks must be taken. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed a series of guidelines for drivers and companies so that hours can be tracked for safety reasons.

If you are involved in an accident with a big rig or commercial vehicle, obtaining a copy of the travel log is an important step in establishing your claim. It can show whether the driver was fatigued if the truck was poorly maintained, and other critical information.

What Is a Travel Log?

In 2015, the FMCSA mandated that all commercial carriers must use an electronic logging device (ELD) on their vehicles and gave them several years to be fully compliant. Today, all commercial trucks, with a few exceptions, use these wireless devices. The ELD functions like an airplane’s black box, keeping track of the driver’s input as well as recording data on the vehicle’s performance.

The ELD does not record all data required, so drivers will also have a paper travel log. The travel log keeps track of the driver’s work time and off time. To prevent driver fatigue, the FMCSA wants to be sure drivers are getting enough sleep, enough time on breaks, and be able to track how much time they are actually driving.

  • Inspection reports. The ELD or travel log will contain the inspections carried out by the driver before leaving the yard and load checks done during the trip. Federal regulations require a certain number of checks per trip.
  • Driving hours. These are the hours the driver is in the cab behind the wheel.
  • On-duty hours. Some companies assign two drivers to a truck so that the vehicle can be driven for more than eight hours per day. If one person is sitting in the passenger seat while the other drives, those hours need to be tracked.
  • Off-duty hours. When the driver is not driving or on-duty but is still out with the truck, their hours must be accounted for.
  • Sleeper berth hours. Some trucks have sleeper berths. The time spent in the berth is recorded in the travel log.
  • Mechanic’s reports. The ELD contains any additional information entered by mechanics who may service the truck at any time.

Other details that can be determined from the travel log include road and weather conditions, the truck’s performance (based on fuel consumption, engine performance, etc.), and whether the driver made the required stops at checkpoints.

What Is the Purpose of a Travel Log?

To prevent driver fatigue that leads to accidents, the FMCSA limits commercial truck drivers to 11 hours of driving, and 14 hours on duty, per 24-hour period. Drivers must also take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving if they don’t take any other breaks during their drive.

The travel log shows whether the driver was taking the required breaks and getting enough rest and sleep during their trip. It proves that the vehicle was being maintained and inspected according to company policy and state and federal regulations.

How Do I Get the Travel Log?

ELDs are supposed to be downloaded onto an external storage device and retained for six months. After that, the data can be destroyed or overwritten. Any written documents only need to be kept for six months.

If you have been involved in an accident, it is very important to obtain these documents as soon as possible. In Kentucky, the statute of limitations allows one year from the date of accident to file a lawsuit for most personal injury cases. For car and truck accident cases, you may be allowed two years. That is not a long time, but it is more than enough for the evidence to have vanished. Even if the driver or the company are acting in good faith, they may still have destroyed the log before you can ask for it.

Contact Us

Your best course of action is to contact the Louisville truck accident lawyers of Sampson Law Firm immediately after an accident involving any commercial vehicle. We can contact the company and request the electronic documents right away, even if you are unsure about whether you want to take legal action.

If you have been involved in an accident with a big rig that wasn’t your fault and believe you have a case, call us at (502) 584-5050 for a free, confidential review. We will do our best to make sure that no evidence gets lost before we can access it.