Do You Really Need to Log That Time?

Aug 13, 2012 | Articles

When do truck and bus drivers need to log their time?  In the US, drivers who are required to hold a CDL to operate a vehicle are required to log their time as described in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 395.  If a CDL is required to operate a vehicle, you are required to log your time.  There are several exceptions to this broad rule, which we will examine.

If the truck is not a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), drivers need not log their time. Typically, trucks that are 10,000 lbs. GVW or under do not require a driver to hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL).  If the driver does not hold a CDL – that driver does not need to log their time.  There are instances where a light duty vehicle driver is required to log his or her time, depending on the use of that vehicle.

Do you haul hazardous materials?  If you have a “required quantity” of any hazardous material, you must placard that vehicle.  A placarded vehicle by definition is a CMV. Therefore, any time spent operating a placarded CMV must be logged – regardless of its size or weight.

Do you transport passengers?  If you transport more than 15 passengers (not for compensation) or more than 8 passengers (for compensation), that vehicle is a CMV – and the operation of that vehicle must be logged.

What about CDL drivers who are performing duties other than driving a CMV – including operating small vehicles?  Any compensated work for anyone must be logged as “On Duty” by a commercial driver.  Any work for a motor carrier, compensated or not, must be logged as “On Duty” by the driver.

What about local drivers?  The federal rules state that a driver who operates within a 100 air mile radius of their domicile is a “short haul” driver.  However, an examination of 395.1 shows that the driver is exempted only from 395.8 – filling out a log book.  Short haul drivers are not exempted from the Hours of Service.

Many of our clients make local pickup and deliveries, and some of these operations fit the federal definition of a “short haul driver”.  However, these short haul drivers must meet more stringent requirements if they choose to use that Short Haul exemption – and not fill out a log book.

Why is there a Short Haul exemption?  It relieves the driver of making many log book entries within a short amount of time.  This is a big burden for the driver, and the 15 minute increments of a paper log make this virtually impossible.  With electronic logs, local driving is no more difficult to log than any other type of driving.  Therefore most carriers who use electronic logs do NOT use the “Short Haul” exemption.

However, every shortcut comes with a price.  Short Haul drivers must work no more than 12 hour shifts – 10 hour shifts for bus drivers.  The carrier must keep accurate and detailed time records for each driver who is using this Short Haul Exemption proving that drivers are not working more than 12 hours in a shift, and have 8 hours off between shifts.

If you use electronic logs, invoking the Short Haul exemption only creates more paperwork and reduces your drivers productivity.  We recommend that you let the computer do the work – and let drivers create their electronic logs.

If you are still on paper logs and choose to use the Short Haul exemption, be certain that you meet all the requirements of 395.1(e).

Some states have Hours of Service requirements that are different from Federal requirements.  These may only be used if you are operating solely intrastate, and none of the freight carried by the truck has crossed a state line.  For example, mail haulers and rail car unloading operations both deal with product that may have originated out of state.  Both must meet Federal Hours of Service regulations.

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