The Impact of Logbooks and Electronic Logging Devices in Truck Accident Cases

Commercial truck accidents in Orange County are more complicated than accidents involving passenger cars. Proving liability, for one, can be particularly challenging.

That’s where logbooks and electronic logging devices come in. If your truck accident attorney acts fast, they may be able to preserve and access these pieces of critical evidence and use them to establish liability.

Read on to learn about the importance of logbooks and electronic logging devices in truck accident cases and how they can help strengthen your claim.

What Are Truck Driver Logbooks?

In the past, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations required commercial drivers to keep daily paper logs of their on- and off-duty hours, total driving time, and hours spent in the sleeper berth.

The purpose of these logs was to ensure that drivers complied with FMCSA hours of service requirements and didn’t drive while fatigued.

The rules have since changed. As of December 18, 2017, commercial truck drivers must have an electronic logging device (ELD) installed in each vehicle to keep track of their service hours automatically.

FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations

The FMCSA restricts the number of service hours truck drivers can have during every workday and week.

Daily Hours of Service

  • Drivers may be on duty for up to 14 hours daily. A minimum off-duty period of 10 hours must precede the 14-hour period.
  • During every 14-hour service window, drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours. The remaining time must be taken up by breaks.
  • Drivers must rest 30 minutes or more per every eight hours of uninterrupted driving.

Weekly Hours of Service

  • The maximum allowable service hours are 70 for an eight-day workweek and 60 for a seven-day workweek.
  • Drivers must take a 34-hour off-duty period after 70 hours of service to restart the weekly allowance. Each 34-hour break must include at least two intervals between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
  • There may only be one 34-hour rest period per week or per 168 hours.

What Information Is in Truck Driver Logbooks?

Logbooks must record the following details for every 24-hour period:

  • Hours spent driving
  • Hours on duty but not driving
  • Hours off duty
  • Hours in the sleeper berth

Additionally, logbooks typically include:

  • Date
  • Truck number
  • Names of all co-drivers
  • Name of the trucking company
  • Origin and destination points
  • The starting time of the 24-hour period
  • Total miles driven in the 24-hour period
  • Shipping manifest with details about the carrier and cargo

What Are Electronic Logging Devices?

Since December 18, 2017, all commercial trucks must be equipped with electronic logging devices.  ELDs connect directly to the truck’s engine, which enables them to automatically monitor how long the vehicle has been in motion. Drivers and trucking companies that don’t have ELDs in their vehicles face strict penalties.

While drivers are no longer required to keep paper logbooks, they haven’t become entirely obsolete. If the ELD stops working, drivers may still use paper logs for a maximum of eight days. After that period, they must either fix the ELD or take the truck out of operation until the issue is resolved.

The Importance of Logbooks and Electronic Logging Devices in Truck Accident Cases

Logbooks and ELDs can provide a detailed account of the truck driver’s actions in the moments leading up to the accident. If this account shows evidence of hours of service violations, you might be able to establish liability on the part of the driver and, by extension, the trucking company.

Examples of violations that may be included in logbooks and ELD records include: 

  • Hours of service violations. If there is no record of one or more required breaks, that can mean the driver was too fatigued to drive safely and may have caused or contributed to the accident. 
  • Off-time duty violations. Likewise, if the amount of time the driver claims to have been off duty doesn’t match the miles covered or the hours the truck was in motion, you may be able to establish an hours of service violation.
  • Miles covered. You may be able to prove an hours of service violation by checking the total miles covered in 24 hours against the logbook. If there are inconsistencies, the driver may not have taken the required breaks.
  • Inspection reports. FMCSA regulations require truck drivers to inspect their vehicles daily. They must record each inspection in the logbook, including any malfunctions and repairs that may be needed. Inspection reports may indicate that the truck shouldn’t have been in operation at the time of the accident. 

However, note that logbook and ELD data run both ways: It can just as easily exonerate the driver and potentially shift the blame onto you. Your attorney will be able to analyze your case and advise whether logbook and ELD data can strengthen or weaken your claim.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the driver or the trucking company may tamper with or destroy logbook or ELD data.

Due to the massive size and weight of the vehicles, truck accident cases often cause substantial property damage and catastrophic injuries. Trucking companies don’t like the big payouts associated with such cases and will do everything in their power to evade or at least minimize their liability — including by destroying critical evidence.

Because trucking companies are only required to keep ELD data for six months, you want to hire a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident to preserve the evidence.

Don’t Waste Time After an Orange County Truck Accident. Contact Us Today.

Time is of the essence in California truck crash cases. That’s why our experienced personal injury attorneys at Khalil Law Group take immediate measures to preserve logbooks and electronic logging devices in truck accident cases.

If you were injured in a truck accident in Orange County, we can help. Call (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a truck accident attorney from our team. We will analyze your case and advise on next steps.

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