Big Rigs, Logbooks, and Safety RisksBy Stewart J. Guss on June 7th, 2017
Drivers of big rigs, semis, commercial trucks, tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles must follow federal hours-of-service regulations by keeping logbooks that meet certain minimum standards. These logbooks are intended to keep truckers from staying on the road past the point of reasonable safety. Often, hours-of-service violations contribute to catastrophic semi accidents, but logbooks don’t always reflect actual driving hours and can be manipulated.
- Log Books
- Commercial truck drivers are required to keep track of their trucking hours:
- Off-duty hours;
- Sleeper-berth hours;
- Driving hours; and
- On-duty but non-driving hours.
All told, these account for truckers’ hours on the road, which are restricted by federal regulations for purposes of safety. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous truckers find ways to comply on the record without, in fact, complying on the road. Some of the ways that truck drivers attempt to skirt the regulations include the following:
- Duplicate Logbooks – Some semi drivers keep duplicate sets of logbooks – one for their own records and one for official inspection.
- Filling Out Logbooks after the Fact – Another method of circumventing the system is to fill out logbooks after the fact. Some truckers fill out their daily logbook on a weekly basis so that they can massage their total numbers for the week into a record that complies with trucking restrictions.
Why It Happens
Of course, many truck drivers are scrupulous about staying within the letter of the law and about doing their best to keep our roads safe for everybody. Others, however, are not. It’s often seen as a systemic function of the trucking business that truckers fall into this trap of noncompliance in the first place.
Many truckers cite circumstances beyond their control, such as shipping delays, for skewing their logbooks. Another important element is truckers’ natural desire to get home, which represents a fundamental trucking industry issue that some companies are attempting to address. Finally, pay plays a role in this conundrum – truckers normally get paid for miles hauled and not for time spent on the road. In any industry, pay is a significant motivator and the trucking business is no different.
By jimmy rigging logbooks, truckers jeopardize their ability to drive safely. The trucking industry itself has yet to adequately address its own role in this risk-taking behavior.
Contact an Experienced Houston Semi Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in a commercial truck accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you need a skilled Houston personal injury attorney with experience in semi-truck collisions.
At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, we’ve been in the business for over 20 years and we’re here to help. We’ll get to work right away by thoroughly investigating your accident, working with the insurance company to obtain your rightful compensation, and when necessary, filing a lawsuit on your behalf. If you’ve been involved in a commercial truck collision, don’t hesitate to give our team a call at 800-898-4877. Your consultation is free, and you don’t pay unless we obtain a settlement or award on your behalf. CLICK HERE to see Stewart interviewed as an authority on trucking accident cases by Mike Papantonio on his national news program, “America’s Lawyer.”