Professional truck drivers spend long and sometimes lonely hours on the road transporting goods back and forth across the country. Since the trucking industry is federally regulated, drivers have an obligation to perform certain tasks along the way. One of those tasks is maintaining a logbook.
These log books are crucial for tracking the amount of time a truck driver spends behind the wheel. They can also be valuable pieces of evidence when a truck driver is involved in a serious collision. Unfortunately, most motorists don’t know that truck drivers are required to maintain a logbook. They also may not know how the information in these logs could help them with their accident claim.
What Is a Truck Driver’s Log?
In the past, a logbook was a paper journal or book that a truck driver used to record their duty hours, driving hours, and time spent in a sleeper. However, technology has evolved, and as of December of 2017, a paper copy of the log was no longer acceptable. Today almost all commercial vehicle drivers are required to have an Electronic Logging Device or ELD installed in their vehicles.
An ELD takes the place of traditional pen and paper, although some drivers still use a physical log book as backup. An ELD is a small electronic device that is generally connected to the truck’s engine. The device tracks how long the vehicle is in motion.
Federal Truck Driving Requirements
Why do truck drivers need to log the amount of time that a vehicle is in motion? Because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates how long drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel. Truckers that transport cargo can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after having ten consecutive hours off. Drivers are also required to take 30-minute breaks when they have driven for at least eight consecutive hours. These federal regulations are meant to help curb accidents involving fatigued or drowsy drivers. The FMCSA estimates that close to 13 percent of commercial truck accidents happen when the driver is drowsy.
If a driver fails to log their hours of service or tampers with the ELD device, there can be stiff consequences. Recordkeeping violations can cost $1,270 per day, up to a maximum of $12,695. Falsifying logs can also result in financial penalties as well as potentially putting a driver out of service.
How Can a Log Book Help in an Accident?
Logbooks and information from an ELD can be evidence in truck accident claims. If a driver has violated federal trucking requirements by exceeding the maximum number of hours they’re allowed behind the wheel, it can help substantiate a claim that the driver was drowsy or fatigued at the time of a crash. The information may also help establish that the driver may have been negligent and potentially liable for the collision.
If the electronic device or logs have been altered or tampered with, this information can also help bolster a victim’s accident claim. Not only is falsifying records a violation of FMCSA regulations, but it also points to a driver who may be considered reckless and negligent when operating their vehicle.
Unfortunately, the data on an ELD can be difficult to obtain, and many victims don’t know to ask for it when they file a claim. One way an experienced attorney can help is by drafting a spoliation letter. This document is delivered to the trucking company and requests that all data and evidence be preserved. An attorney can also review other forms of data such as cell phone records, safety inspection reports, and black box data to help a victim build a strong case for maximum compensation.
Reach Out to an Experienced Louisiana Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Logbooks and ELDs can help protect truck drivers from pushing the limits of what is healthy and safe. However, they can also help protect victims involved in serious truck accidents. The information contained in these logs may be the key to helping a victim get the compensation that they deserve after a significant collision.
If you have been hurt in a truck accident and need help investigating and preparing an accident claim, talk to an experienced Louisiana truck accident attorney today. At Veron Bice, LLC, we can even review your case for free. Call us today at 337-310-1600 or contact us online and find out how we may be able to help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries.