Log books and Drive-Away

I’ve been thinking about the best way to explain the complicated business of Log Books in the trucking industry over the past several days.

The DOT Regulation regarding log books is called HOS or Hours Of Service. The purpose of the regulation is to stop, or cut down on, Driver Fatigue. The regulation is two-pronged. It is meant to keep the trucking companies from forcing their drivers to work beyond their physical limits AND to keep drivers from doing the same.

When I was first introduced to the world of truck driving there were log book regulations in place. This was back in 1973 and the regulations were skirted around all the time. Drugs to keep drivers awake for three to five days at a time were sold at truck stops. All a driver had to do was get on the CB (Citizen’s Band) radio at a truck stop and ask “Anyone heading to LA”? Or another question was “What is the “Speed Limit”? The dealer of these drugs would answer back “Come on over to the “Blue Peterbilt” or whatever color and type of truck he drove. Further instructions of where the truck was parked in the lot were given. Sometimes, if a user had a network of dealers in truck stops, all was needed was to get on the CB and call out the “Handle” of the dealer. The driver would say something like “Break 1-9 is that White Unicorn out there tonight?” If the person with the handle of White Unicorn was within 2 miles they would answer with their location and then the driver would go and make the deal.

The drugs had colorful names. Black Beauties, LA Turn-Arounds, Yellow Jackets, and Speed.

I didn’t get involved in the drugs nor their transactions. I learned about the process from my children’s father. Won’t give him the distinction of husband.

Drug use to stay awake was common back in the early 70’s. Trucking companies turned a blind eye to this practice because the loads were being delivered. Drug testing by urine sampling was, as yet, unheard of and didn’t become common practice until the late 1990’s.

Federal agencies worked to rein in the trucking industry because of the mounting accidents with fatalities due to driver fatigue of non drug users and the accidents caused by the drug using drivers that were coming down from the drugs and fell asleep at the wheel.

One time I was riding with my children’s father when he stopped in the middle of US 287 near Dalhart, Texas one dark night. He swore there were little green men on the ground in front of his truck keeping him from going further. He even got out of the truck and swung his fists at the little invisible guys. I thought he lost his mind.

Log books, at that time, were required by the driver to show an 8 hour break in a 24 hour period. The 8 hours could be split by two 4 hour rest stops. All fuel and meal breaks had to be shown on the logs within the 16 hour driving day.

The regulations have tightened up and have a lot of people squawking. The shippers grumble at the delays to get their products to stores, trucking companies grumble because the estimated times of drivers arriving for pick up or delivery have lengthened, the drivers grumble because they don’t make as much money since they are paid by the miles driven and the logging rules mean less time on the road.

The current ruling states a driver MUST have a 10 hour break in every 24 hour period with 34 hours of additional time off duty for every 7 or 8 days.

There is a “7/60” rule which means a driver can drive 60 hours in 7 days. There is an “8/70” rule which means a driver can drive 70 hours in 8 days. Both rules require a 34 hour break in 7 or 8 days. Meaning a driver has to show that time “Off Duty”.

Drive-Away is governed by the 8/70 rule. Stick with me here. This is where you can get lost.

I’ll show you one of my log sheets

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My driving day started at 8 in the morning at Columbia, South Carolina. Before I left the lot I had to make a mental note that 6 pm would be my “10 Hour” day. If necessary, I could take one extra hour but no more than 11 hours of driving in one day. The absolute ON DUTY limit would be 14 hours with a mandatory 10 hour OFF DUTY break. This was the day I drove the box truck.

10 a.m. I stopped in Clinton, South Carolina to purchase fuel then get back on the road by 10:15. We stopped in Dandridge, Tennessee at 1:30 p.m. for lunch at Captain’s Galley – a favorite stop for us – and left at 2:30 p.m. Corbin, Kentucky was my next stop for fuel at 4:30 to 4:45. This left me with 1-1/4 hour of driving remaining to my day. Hotels were sold out around Georgetown, Kentucky where my 6 p.m. “curfew” would be. A room was located in Williamstown a little further up the road and still in the legal limit of my day.

My next day was a long and fractured day. Delivering the box truck then messing around with trucks at two different locations, trucks not ready at the second location, and time spent in the hook up process. Each bit of my time had to be shown for the day.

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One question I see, and hear, is about the time spent in our personal vehicles driving (deadheading) from the delivery point to the next pick up point.

Searching the Internet for DOT Regulations on logging for Drive-Away I can’t find the regulation.

This is the “Gray Area” in the rulings. While a Drive-Away driver is in any vehicle they are being paid to drive, he/she MUST log their time. When the vehicle is delivered and the driver is in transit to the next pick up location the driver can show this time as OFF DUTY.

A “Class 8” vehicle is a tandem axle or single axle truck that weighs GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of MORE THAN 33,000 pounds. A “Class 7” vehicle is one that weights 26,001 to 33,000pounds.

A “Class 6” vehicle has a GVWR range of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds. Examples of this truck would be a GMC Top Kick C-6500 and the Ford F-650.

A “Class 5” GVWR vehicle is 16,001 to 19,500. Examples would be Dodge Ram 5500 and the Ford F-550.

Medium Duty is a “Class 4” with a GVWR range from 14,001 to 16,000 pounds. Examples include the Ford F-450 and Dodge Ram 4500.

Light Duty is a “Class 3” with a GVWR range of 10,001 to 14,000. Examples include Dodge Ram 3500 and Ford F-350. The H1 Hummer is also an example of a Class 3 truck which has a GVWR of 10,300 pounds.

“Class 2” vehicles have a GVWR rating of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds. Examples include Dodge Ram 1500 and a Ford F-150.

“Class 1″ vehicle with a GVWR rating of 0 to 6,000 pounds include the Toyota Tacoma, Dodge Dakota, and the GMC Canyon.

The sticky part of the HOS (Hours of Service” ruling for Drive-Away drivers in their personal vehicles is so ambiguous and sporadically enforced. The Port of Entry or Weigh Station Masters are usually the ones to enforce the ruling that ALL driving by a Drive-Away driver is logged. Even so far as the driving to their personal homes must be logged.

You, as a Drive-Away driver, take your chances at being ticketed with a “Log Book Violation” and fined $150 to $1,000. This all depends on how much you run your mouth and piss the person off. Then again, you might be on the bad end of the stick because of a previous truck driver that pushed the buttons. Some Weigh Masters tell you to get a log page started right there in front of him/her then let you go.

The proper logging of your vehicle time is ON DUTY NOT DRIVING.
Except when it isn’t?! Go figure.

Okay! Now that you are thoroughly confused I

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About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

2 responses to “Log books and Drive-Away

  • gardenpinks

    The drug side of the truck driving must have been very frightening to an onlooker. The driving hours allowed an be a pain for companies and drivers but if it saves lives – particularly those of other road users – then so be it however the pressures build on the drivers and then we end up with speeding vehicles to do as many miles as possible especially amongst the ‘white van’ drivers.
    My sister drives coaches and buses and the amount of permits and licences she has to carry with her on each and every trip is ludicrous plus the driving time regulations are even stricter.

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      I am so glad those days are gone, and I’m extremely thankful that I didn’t get involved with the drugs. Nasty stuff.

      Your sister has a job that is quite demanding, physically and emotionally, being responsible for the safe delivery of the people on her bus. I bet she has a story or two about the idiots she has to share the road with.

      Another thing I’m very thankful for is the job we have. We are not pushed beyond our limits to get the trucks delivered.

      Thank you, my dear friend, for visiting me once more.

      Love you – Leslie

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