Be truthful in logbooks

by Raymond Mercuri

A driver’s logbook can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But if yours is best described as a great work of fiction, it’s time to reconsider the process.

Once your logs are turned in and collected by your carrier in accordance with the law, they become open and subject to both internal and external audit inspections.

A roadside compliance officer will seldom find an hours-of-service violation if a driver falsifies his log. The real test comes after the fact, when the logbooks are subjected to audits. A compliance officer is going to come to a carrier’s place of business with time-stamped documents that will be checked against it.

Not only will the officer bring copies of your roadside inspection reports, but he will also request copies of fuel receipts, toll receipts and bills of lading. With these, he will be able to check every change in duty status that you logged against formal documents that show times, dates and locations. If you bought fuel on March 3 at 4 p.m., your log for that day better show the fuel stop. On-site logbook compliance audits will turn up lies, tales and fiction that can’t be picked up during roadside inspections.

Auditors will also look closely at average trip speeds. A truck cannot average more than 80 to 85 km-h over the long haul. After all, your truck also has to travel through 50 km-h speed zones, and contend with the stop-and-start local traffic before it ever gets to the highway. Even on the highway, you have to routinely stop and re-fuel, eat, call the bride and take regular coffee breaks.

If your logs are calculated based on speeds of 100 km-h, that will pique an auditor’s interest. It will mean only one of two things: a false log, or a lead foot. Either way, you become an auditor’s target.

When a serious accident involves a truck, enforcement officials and the media are all over it like a dirty shirt, whether we like it or not. And enforcement officers will surely check your logs with a fine-tooth comb for at least the last seven days.

The only way to survive such a check is to maintain a set of clean and honest logs.

As a final note, I would like to recognize a few of my own guys who have just earned their five-year safe driving awards. Congratulations to a great bunch of guys for an excellent job at pulling A-trains. Thanks to Bob Wingert, Marty Gardner, Chuck Baird, Dale Holman, Gary Norris, Stan Shouldice, Jeannot Gagnon, Lorne Ryder and the late Verne Funk. n

– Raymond Mercuri is the safety manager at FedEx Ground in Mississauga, Ont.

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