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Paperwork is an important aspect of your new career in trucking. For every day you are on the road, you must fill out your log book (or hours of service log). Every professional truck driver must keep his log book up to date every time he stops, rests, begins his day, or ends his day.
A log book is a legal document used in accounting for the hours which are spent driving, on duty, sleeping, or spending time off. The Department Of Transportation (DOT) has very strict limits in how many hours can be spent driving or on-duty.
The log book is a way for the DOT, and your employer, to make sure these guidelines are followed:
1. A driver may not exceed 11 hours of driving time within a 24 hour period.
2. A driver may not exceed 14 hours of consecutive on-duty time (including driving time). Only use of the sleeper berth for 2 or more consecutive hours may extend the on-duty time.
3. A driver must have 10 hours of off-duty time for every 11 hours of driving time, or 14 hours of on-duty time. Normally, this time is taken consecutively, but may be divided into two sleeping berth periods as long as each sleeping berth period is at least 2 hours long.
4. A driver must have 34 consecutive off-duty hours after each 60 hour/7 day period or 70 hour/8 day period.
These rules are in place to prevent truckers from driving too many hours at a time, which can have severe consequences. Law enforcement or a representative of the DOT may, at any time, ask to view a driver's log books. If they are not up-to-date and accurate, or if they reflect that any of these rules have been broken; the driver and/or his company may face fines, or even be taken off the road for a time.
The log sheet is basically a timeline which starts and ends at midnight. You are asked to put a mark for each 15 minute interval in which you are either on or off duty, in the sleeper berth, or driving. You will include your company name and truck number as well as the total miles driven during that 24 hour period. It must be filled out completely in black ink. On the back of the sheet there is usually a vehicle inspection report, used for the pre-trip, which also needs to be reflected on the log sheet, taking at least 15 minutes.
If you are driving for a company, you will be asked to turn in your log books to the company's safety coordinator. The safety coordinator will review them, and then file them in case of a DOT audit. The DOT may, at any time, audit a trucking company, or any individual driver, for any reason.