Evidence like a trucker’s electronic log book is important if someone has been seriously injured in a truck accident and it’s believed the truck driver was at fault. Truckers are required to keep this log, and some are now using an electronic log instead of a paper one.
Information Contained in the Trucker’s Electronic Log Book
Whether paper or electronic, the driver’s log book, also known as a Record of Duty Status, contains logs indicating the consecutive number of hours the driver has been on duty and behind the wheel. It may help prove that a driver had violated the number of hours allowed behind the wheel.
The driver must indicate time spent:
- off duty;
- in the sleeper berth (place for resting/sleeping);
- driving; and
- on duty (but not driving).
The total number of hours for each of these four is also noted in the log book. There is additional information that must be included in a log book which could also be helpful after a truck accident. An example is the total miles driven. This may also help show if there was a violation with the amount of driving time allowed.
Requirements of a Driver’s Log book
Trucking industry rules are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It has specific requirements when it comes to the keeping of a log book. One is that drivers must record their duty status for each 24-hour period.
One of the concerns is that these records could be falsified. The driver and/or the trucking company could be subject to prosecution if these records aren’t preserved or they aren’t accurate.
Under FMCSA rules, the employer must maintain the records for a period of six months. A truck accident attorney may send a spoliation letter in order to advise the employer that no evidence is to be tampered with or destroyed, as the victim of the accident plans to file a claim or lawsuit.
Another requirement is that only the driver who is on duty should be making the entries in the log book. This holds him/her accountable for the data being recorded. It’s also required that the driver submits the log book to his/her employer within 13 days of completing it.
If someone from law enforcement responds to a truck accident and takes the original copy of the record of duty status, it is the responsibility of the driver to prepare a second original record as a replacement. A notation must indicate who took the original and under what circumstances it occurred.
How a Log Book Could Be Useful as Evidence after a Truck Accident
One of the common causes of a truck accident is driver fatigue. Because of this, FMCSA has enforced hours-of-service rules which mandate how long a driver can operate a commercial vehicle.
Going over those hours, whether by personal choice or when an employer requires it, is a serious violation and it may help substantiate the claim that a driver was drowsy at the time of the accident.
Of course, there is the potential for data in a log book to be altered. The best way to prevent this is by securing it as evidence as soon as possible. This is why it’s a good idea to contact an attorney immediately.