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Many countries have strict laws in place governing the operation of trucks. These laws are designed to reduce accidents by ensuring the driver gets adequate rest. They often limit the hours a trucker may drive, or the number of days he may drive each week. Many of these countries also require drivers to maintain trucker logs to ensure compliance with these laws. Trucker logs act as a written or electronic record of all hours that the trucker has driven during a given period, and are often subject to inspection or review by governing bodies and law enforcement.
Traditional trucker logs consist of simple ledger books or journals. While the trucker is supposed to record hours logged as they occur or soon after, many drivers wait and try to reconstruct the log from memory much later. This is often illegal, as well as inaccurate. Modern trucking companies may rely on electronic trucker logs instead of written records. Electronic logs allow the trucker to enter hours, expenses, and other information into a computer or dashboard system using special software programs.
The requirements for trucker logs differ by region. Many industry safety laws limit truckers to a specific number of consecutive driving hours. Others mandate specific rest, or off-duty periods, which must allow the driver enough time to sleep and recover before getting behind the wheel. Others limit cumulative hours over a workweek, or other period. The trucking company may also require drivers to log mileage, fuel expenses, and other reimbursement requests in addition to hours.
In addition to meeting truck safety laws, truckers logs offer a number of additional benefits for both the trucker and society as a whole. They make it easy for the driver to track his hours, which can help him reduce his safety risks as well as the risk of legal fines and penalties. Police checkpoints and weigh stations often review these logs to ensure the driver is in compliance with laws, and doesn't pose a threat to other drivers. Truckers logs also serve as powerful tools during an accident investigation.
Some drivers may attempt to falsify truckers logs in an effort to work more hours, or at the request of an employer. In the past, fuel receipts or inspection tickets could be used to audit these logs and spot discrepancies. Today, modern GPS technology makes it much more difficult to report false information in a trucker log, and helps to ensure honest compliance.
The truckers I know kept their logbooks in meticulous order. I don't know any truckers who would admit to fudging their logs, but you know it happens, if they think they can get away with it.
I guess that sounds bad, but there are bad apples in every profession, who will get by with whatever they are allowed to, or can sneak.
Logs may sound arbitrary, but they really do exist to keep everyone on the roads safe. You don't want someone who is driving a 50,000 pound vehicle to be so tired he or she can't stay on the road, or is about to fall asleep. That's asking for disaster, and companies are wise to insist their drivers get enough sleep to enable them to drive safely, for them, for their families, and for everyone on the road.