The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hundreds of rules in place to improve the safety of the commercial trucking industry. One such rule is that all truck drivers must keep daily logbooks that record duty statuses, operations, and other information. Section 395.8 requires electronic logging devices (ELDs) in most commercial trucks. It is shocking how often truckers and companies disobey this rule and “cheat” on their logbooks to cover up inappropriate or dangerous behaviors. Safety violations and abuses of the federal regulatory process can quickly lead to tragic accidents in Texas.
Why Do Truckers Cheat the Logbook System?
Drowsy truck driving is a major problem on Texas’s roadways. It is impossible for drivers to operate a truck safely when they are tired or even falling asleep. Truckers are especially at risk for drowsy driving because of long hours on the road, pressure from bosses to meet deadlines, and being alone in the cab. The FMCSA strives to reduce this dangerous behavior with the ELD and hours of service rules. Unfortunately, drivers who lie about their daily activities easily circumvent these laws. Here are a few possible ways to cheat the system:
- Create fake logbooks. Some truckers and trucking companies still falsify their logs, though this problem is diminishing thanks to the ELD requirement. They create logs with made-up information to present to authorities in the event of inspections, but they do not actually fill them out daily, as they should by law.
- Lie about information. Drivers may create duplicate logbooks, so that they may have one “good” one on hand in the event of an unexpected inspection. They may also fill out logs much later than required to cover up hours of service regulation violations or fill out the book with dishonest information.
Truck drivers may lie on their logbooks to drive past their hours of service regulations or break other FMCSA rules. They do this to meet deadlines, receive fast delivery bonuses, and get home to their families faster. Unfortunately, broken rules greatly increase the risk of accidents. There is a reason the FMCSA requires daily activity logging – to prevent truckers from breaking the rules. Entries should be current, accurate, and truthful, not falsified for the trucker’s personal gain.
Logbooks and Personal Injury Claims
Daily logbooks can serve as hard evidence of a truck driver’s negligence in truck-related personal injury claims. Acquiring a driver’s logbook or ELD records is an important step in the investigation phase of any truck accident. This document can show proof of a driver breaking the FMCSA’s rules by disobeying hours of service or other regulations. If a driver falsified the books, a thorough investigative team may be able to catch the driver cheating – also proving negligence.
If a truck driver caused a serious accident or wrongful death, an accident attorney can most likely discover whether he or she cheated on the logbooks. This may take comparing the book with shipping documents and black-box data from the truck itself. Unexpected inspections and electronic logs can also uncover truckers cheating the system. Seek help from a lawyer after an accident in which you suspect a trucker broke an FMCSA safety rule. Analyzing the logbooks and checking for cheating may be necessary to prove your case.