The Manager’s Guide to Logbooks

by Holly Plude - Published: 3/03/2017
4.2 5 votes

After attending a workshop on Logbook Auditing, I realized that smaller trucking companies were at greater risk for being audited and fined. Most of this is due to a lack of training, which is easily rectified.

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I think the greatest take-away from the workshop was the statement, “the same thinking equals the same results.” The statement speaks volumes. Today’s transportation managers need to always be asking “why”. The more questions you ask, the more answers you receive, the better your drivers will fill out their logs (whether they are e-logs or paper). I think this is especially true given how many truck driving jobs are being offered to job-seekers every day as there is an obvious need in the industry. If you want to have successful drivers in your employ, then it is imperative that you train and follow up with that training.

And let’s face a piece of reality at this point -  training does not equal compliance. A trucking company can train your drivers all day every day, but if they are not following up and doing internal audits of those logs, they are not really correcting bad habits.

Keep in mind, if you have a DOT audit of your drivers logs, the auditor has discretion on what they write tickets for. The auditor could be a local law enforcement officer or a federally paid civilian. Their background could influence their perception. Also, the attitude of office staff and drivers often directly affects the auditor’s response. Taking time to go over what happens at an audit and how to respond to requests for information will play a part in what type of fines are assessed at the end of the audit.

And remember, a safety audit is not same as a compliance review. A safety audit is more educational; however, a company can still be fined during a safety audit.

Important Need to Know:

Common Errors:

Let’s examine some of the commons errors and work out how to correct them. Keep in mind that these are all  offenses that may constitute a fine during an audit.

Wrong dates

Name and address line not filled out correctly

It seems like a huge nuisance and it would be easier just to go to electronic logs. Many would agree electronic logs are easier to work with, however, they still must be audited and have corrections made. And unfortunately, drivers still find a way to falsify electronic logs. So, you must always be vigilant.

Fine and Penalties

What will a fine or penalty look like monetarily is the question most often asked. In all reality, the FMCSA has a lot of caveats before assessing a fine. These include:

The FMCSA provides a handy 52 page manual to help navigate the waters of penalties. The short of it is that penalties can range anywhere from $250 to $10,000, per occurrence. If a company has a driver who writes the wrong date on their log every day for a week, that equals seven days times seven errors. (Of course, not every every auditor is going to react the same way.) One should audit their logs as if they are going to encounter a very strict auditor. Additionally, one should never assume that because you haven’t been fined before you won’t be fined now.

In today’s transportation market, truck driving jobs are growing at a rate of 5%. The BLS posted that in 2014 there were 1,797,700 trucking jobs. That means by the end of 2017 some 90,000 new trucker jobs will have been added. With the ever-growing industry of commercial trucking pervading into all aspects of American commerce, making sure one knows how to handle their logbook and subsequent audits is essential.

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