Due to their sheer size and weight, large commercial trucks have the potential to cause a lot of damage if an accident occurs. For this reason, the U.S. government heavily regulates truck drivers and trucking companies, including the use of logbooks. Companies must keep careful records of how long drivers are out on the road, where shipments are going and the total number of miles drivers are traveling per day.
When a truck accident occurs, attorneys often scrutinize these logbooks. If, for example, someone suffers an injury in a serious truck accident and wishes to seek compensation, that person’s Los Angeles truck accident lawyer would almost certainly seek these logs to look for possibly incriminating information. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation may conduct audits of trucking companies and request to review their logbooks.
What do trucking logbooks require?
Any driver operating a commercial vehicle must track his or her status for each 24-hour period using an onboard recording device or an official form. The driver must record information such as the town, village, city, truck stop or other location when reporting for work, starting to drive, going on duty (but not driving) or ending the workday.
These stringent regulations prevent truckers from working too many hours in any single 24-hour period. Truck drivers often face enormous pressure to meet tight shipping deadlines, and in years past would too often drive for hours on end without resting. This was both hazardous to drivers’ health and increased the likelihood of accidents occurring.
Even with these regulations place, however, some truck drivers and companies break the rules and may even falsify logbook records to allow drivers to stay out on the road for longer periods of time than federal law allows. Fatigued driving can be nearly as dangerous as drunk driving, and there are obvious hazards associated with falling asleep at the wheel. The large size of the average semi-truck makes this situation even more dangerous.
What are examples of common logbook errors?
The most common example of a logbook error is failing to list the correct or exact times a driver took the road, took a break or completed his or her work. Additional problems include issues with overloaded trailers or unevenly loaded trailers, which could cause the truck driver to lose control of the rig.
Failing to log any maintenance checks or work done to the vehicle before the trip could also make the trucking company liable for any injuries caused in accidents that occur due to defective or poorly maintained parts.
In other situations, trucking companies simply do not hold on to their drivers’ duty status records for long enough. Federal regulations require companies to retain these records for at least six months, and drivers must carry their records for the previous seven days so they can produce them for inspection immediately upon request. Drivers must also send their original status records to their employers within 13 days of their completion.
Anyone who suffers an injury in a serious crash should work with a truck accident lawyer to determine if there were any logbook errors that contributed to the incident. If so, it could help determine who or what was at fault and provide a Los Angeles personal injury attorney with the evidence needed to successfully pursue compensation.
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