What Is the Point of a Truck Driver’s Logbook?
18-wheelers are powerful, dangerous vehicles due to the amount of weight behind them. They need massive engines to pull that much weight, and it takes them much longer to brake. When an 18-wheeler slams into another vehicle, they do devastating amounts of damage, often leading to wrongful death. What this ultimately means is that 18-wheeler accidents are more dangerous than most other kinds of accidents.
However, the country wouldn’t run without our truckers. The average person may not realize the vital role that truck drivers play in ensuring the shelves of the grocery store are stocked. So we must rely on trucks, even if they can be incredibly dangerous. Thankfully we’ve come up with a number of ways to reduce the likelihood of truck accidents. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road, and this standard is monitored through the truck driver’s logbook.
Truck drivers must use their logbooks religiously, ensuring that they keep them updated at all times. The logbook can be used to ensure that proper vehicle inspections were made, that the driver is not overworking themselves, and that breaks were taken at the appropriate times, to name just a few.
It is worth noting that there are also other rules that truck drivers must follow, such as keeping a lower blood alcohol content or providing daily status updates. It should also be noted that some vehicles may be treated like 18-wheelers in California. For example, any vehicle that is towing a trailer or another vehicle must follow the rules of the road as if they were a commercial vehicle.
How Can a Logbook Help Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
You are supposed to be able to request a copy of a trucker’s logbook should you be involved in an accident. There are consequences for not keeping a logbook updated, as well as for refusing to provide one when requested. This means that, for the most part, you should have no problem getting the logbook.
Inside the logbook, you’ll find daily entries that include the date, the name of the carrier, the truck’s number, where driving started that date, where it ended, the total number of miles driven in that period, and other information such as the commodity the trucker is hauling.
If the driver has been following all the rules and regulations, then the logbook might not prove to be a particularly useful piece of evidence. However, an examination of the logbook could find out that:
- The driver was violating hours of service rules, meaning that they were driving for too many hours without taking the necessary breaks. These rules exist to ensure that drivers are rested when behind the wheel; a failure to take a break could mean that the driver was negligently driving while overly tired.
- The driver was traveling too many hours per day. These rules are in place to help reinforce the hours of service rules. Driving too many miles in a day would suggest the driver didn’t stop for breaks, even if the logbook showed that they had.
- The driver’s off-time hours do not add up, meaning they were on the road longer than they were supposed to be.
- That the driver failed to perform their daily inspection of the vehicle before beginning their commute.
As you can see, there are multiple redundancies built into the logbook in order to catch any lies. Trucking companies often give drivers unrealistic schedules that can only be met if they drive unsafe hours. An inspection of a truck driver’s logbook is often an investigation for what isn’t being said, what information is being hidden or kept between the lines. As such, it is best to examine the truck driver’s logbook with an experienced attorney.
Note, too, that there are weekly hours of service regulations and daily regulations. This means that a driver could be in violation of their weekly regulations even if their daily stats look fine.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been In an 18-Wheeler Accident?
The first thing to do when you get into an 18-wheeler accident is to call 911. It is natural that you will want to freak out or panic, but this can only cause further issues. Try to stay calm and call the authorities.
If you aren’t injured, it is a good time to exchange information with the truck driver and gather evidence, such as photos of the accident. If you are unable to do so, try to have a friend or family member do so. However, it is okay if you are unable to gather evidence at this time. A lot of individuals involved in an 18-wheeler accident aren’t conscious when they leave the scene, so it isn’t the end of the world if you can’t take photos or get witnesses’ contact information.
One of the most vital things you can do is seek medical attention. If you are injured in an accident, you must get it treated quickly. This creates a record of your medical visit, and this helps to prove that your injuries were a result of the 18-wheeler accident and not some other cause.
Of course, you will also want to contact an attorney.
Can You Prove Negligence With a Logbook?
To win a lawsuit, you have to show that either the truck driver or the trucking company acted in a negligent manner. No logbook is going to say, “choose to drive negligently,” yet it is often the best evidence you have available.
Most drivers will take steps to make their logbooks look legitimate, especially if they are knowingly breaking the rules. However, there are always points of reference that don’t add up when a truck driver fudges their logbook, and an experienced attorney can help you to spot inconsistencies that highlight the driver’s negligence.
When Should I Contact an Attorney?
You should contact an attorney as early as possible following your accident. Make sure that you deal with the police and the doctors first, then reach out to an experienced attorney to learn more about what can be done to seek compensation for the damages you suffered as a result of an 18-wheeler accident.