How to fill out a truck driver log book

Written by kevin freeman
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How to fill out a truck driver log book
(delivery red trucks image by JoLin from

If you have a commercial driver's license, or CDL, then you understand how vital it is to have your driving logs filled out properly throughout your workday. Departments of transportation frequently stop truck drivers passing through weigh stations to inspect their logs to ensure that truck drivers are taking necessary safety measures. By filling out your logs correctly, you greatly increase the odds of driving away from an inspection without being fined, ticketed or shut down.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ruler

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  1. 1

    Fill in all required information. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's online guide, all commercial drivers must log their time at work and their time off, unless an exception rule applies; read your log book's information page for an extensive list of those exceptions. Most log books follow a similar format, requiring the driver's name, employer's name (sometimes called the "carrier"), the date and duties performed throughout the day. Some logs have additional boxes to list the type of load you are hauling and where you are taking it to. While that information might seem overly basic, if not trivial in some cases, it is important to have each portion of your log clearly and accurately filled out at the beginning of each day in case you are stopped for a random inspection.

  2. 2

    Update your duty status every time you stop and start driving. To update your changes in duty, use your ruler to draw a straight line along the activity portion of your log. Most logs list four status updates: Off Duty, On Duty, Driving and Sleeper Berth. Each day typically begins in the "Off Duty" portion, dropping down to "On Duty" during pre- and post-trip inspections before moving to the "Driving" portion while the load is in transit. The "Sleeper Berth" portion is only used to notate breaks that are taken while the driver remains in the cab of the truck.

  3. 3

    Continue updating the log throughout the day. As you take shift breaks, stop for a meal or switch from driving to loading and unloading, make notations on your logs as to when and where the change in duty occurred and how long it lasted. Below the activity portion, there is typically a blank section where each update can be listed, connecting the information to the point where the change in duty occurred with a straight line. By updating your logs as each change occurs, you can save confusion in trying to remember the exact times and the number of changes that occurred at the end of the day; you can also save yourself the embarrassment and frustration of explaining that lack of documentation to a traffic officer if you are stopped.

  4. 4

    Keep it tidy. It might seem superficial, but keeping a neat, clean logbook is helpful to the inspection officer going over your logs and it also enables you to keep your own records without having to second-guess any illegible information. Drivers who choose to scrawl a quick line to their duty changes and descriptions, scribbling over mistakes as necessary, can find themselves having to explain those scribbles to an inspection officer who now has reason to question what was originally underneath the scribbles. By keeping a neat, clean log book, it will be apparent that you are compliant with DOT log book regulations and that you are not trying to cheat the system.

  5. 5

    Hold on to your log books. Although some drivers choose to dispose of their old log books when they are finished with them, keeping the books filed for a few years can be helpful if you are audited. Many drivers choose to file their logs for the previous seven years to support their tax deductions and expenses. Holding onto old log books is also helpful for comparing miles driven and hours worked to the amount your employer reimburses you. Use your log books as a chart to track your progress as a driver, and they will not only protect you from legal penalties, but they will also help to protect your interests.

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