Knowing how a logbook should be audited, what you should look for, and what a Department of Transportation (DOT) auditor will be looking for can make your job easier in the long run. Time spent now can lessen fines received later during an audit. Also, by auditing the logs daily, you can give back to the drivers those logs that need correction, thus teaching them the correct way to fill out their logs, which will lessen fines received during roadside inspections.
The DOT Auditor
The DOT auditor has complete discretion on when they write tickets and issue fines. Auditors will either be a State Police officer or a civilian, who is employed by the DOT. The attitude of the office staff and of the drivers toward the auditor will directly affect the State Police's response. Do not offer anything to the auditor, including, but not limited to, coffee, water, or snacks, as this can be construed as a bribe, which is a federal offense.
As of 2013, a driver falsifying a log, or a company knowingly allowing a driver to falsify a log, are subject to up to five years in federal prison.
Driving Within 150-Mile Radius
As of 2013, 150 air-mile radius drivers can legally carry a timesheet and a log book together. When driving within a 150-mile radius, the driver does not have to document pre- or post-trip on their timesheets. However, any route over 12 hours must be on a driver's log, whether the driver is in or out of the 150 air-mile radii.
Drivers cannot use a 16-hour rule if traveling outside a 100-mile air radius.
Management must see that loads are dispatched and scheduled within a legitimate time frame. As the company schedules routes, the dispatcher or router must take into account weather and speed limits. The company auditor must always total the hours on each line of the grid to ensure they add up to 24 hours.
The company logbook auditor must also audit timesheets as well. A driver's 60 hours is based on a restart to restart, not on a payroll week.
Drivers need downtime between jobs to rest. If there are not 10 hours off between jobs, then you are liable for any accidents. The Mandatory Rest Break change, which was effective July 1, 2013, states the eight hours is drive time. A driver may not drive after eight hours of Drive Time unless taking a 30-minute rest break.
All minor violations should have documented disciplinary action. This includes such things as the wrong date on the log, name or address wrong, grid errors, not being legible, etc.
A safety audit is not the same thing as a compliance review. The safety audit is more educational, and the company tends to receive fewer fines for errors made to the safety audit.
For good recordkeeping, the company should always put the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating tag information into an equipment maintenance file.
A driver does not need to document the Total Miles Today section unless they are team driving. Only document the section titled Driving Miles and record the miles.
Be sure that drivers do not abbreviate the names of cities. These names must be fully written out (i.e., must write Grand Rapids, GR is not acceptable). However, states can be abbreviated.
Logging Time Off or Zero-Hours
Off-duty means the driver is 100% relieved of all responsibility towards the truck. Breakdowns are always listed as On-Duty Not Driving until the truck is towed or the driver is fully relieved of responsibility. Paid hours have nothing to do with hours of service.
The driver timesheets must be completed for any zero-hour days. A driver can use one log sheet for multiple days off-duty, provided that all the dates are in one month. However, second jobs must be notated in the logbooks. If a driver has more than one day off-duty, a line is drawn through off-duty, 24 hours is written on the off-duty hour-line and 24 hours times the number of days the log is, is entered on the total-hour line.
When you stop, you only have to say where you are, not what you are doing unless you are in an accident, roadside inspection, breakdown, or adverse weather. Once again, don't abbreviate the name of towns or cities, but you may abbreviate the state.
Other Items to Keep In Mind
It is important to keep accurate paperwork. The neater the logbook, the less likely there will be a fine.
- Drivers must initial all changes in their logbook.
- Draw a dash through any line where no information is needed.
- Drivers do not need to fill out the Home Address line.
- The Start/Destination lines at the bottom of the log are not required.
- The driver does not have to fill out the Shipper line as they are the Shipper.
- Recaps are not required by law on the daily log.
- There can be nothing on the windshield within the radius of the windshield wipers.
Pre-Audit Review Recommendations
To ensure drivers are in compliance, you should meet with personnel who will be present during an audit. Make sure you discuss how a poor attitude can impact an audit.
Try to designate a quiet space or a meeting room for the audit. This space should be away from other drivers. Before the audit, review all paper logs for the past six months and have drivers make all the necessary corrections. Also, review all timesheets for the last six months for Class C drivers. Have corrections made as necessary. Be sure to have the driver initial any changes.
As a company, it is best to write an official policy and procedure for completing logs. Include what will happen for log violations. Have these policies as part of the company's Policy and Procedure handbook given to all drivers. It is also a good idea to have a employees acknowledge the receipt of these policies.
Meet with all drivers that have second jobs and inform them of their responsibilities for logging their hours for their other jobs as well as the work they do for you. Remind them that they cannot drive after reaching the 60 hour total.
Review routes for 16-hour extension limitations and adjust if possible, or tell drivers they have to start laying over. Show all Class C drivers how to write a driver's daily log to do when necessary. Establish a policy and procedure for off-duty time.
It's important to make sure all the drivers in your fleet are aware of these policies and how they need to abide by them.