The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) puts regulations in place for the safety of truck drivers and those around them on the road. When drivers falsify their trucking log books to extend their hours and driving time, not only are they costing their company hundreds of dollars but they could also be a part of a conspiracy enacted by their employer to ignore the service rules endorsed by the DOT to make more of a profit. The current hours of legal service are outlined on the DOT website and currently state that property carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers have regulations such as an 11 hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Furthermore, these drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Consequently, the off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. In a 7/8 day consecutive period, a CMV driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty. A commercial truck driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty .
Why Do Drivers Falsify Their Daily Logs?
There are many reasons why drivers or their respective company falsify their daily logs:
- Monetary Gains: As long as the financial gains are higher than the penalties for falsification, the money will be a major motivator.
- Drivers are usually paid by the mile. Therefore, the more miles per day, the more money the 18 wheeler driver makes.
- While the driver may not be paid for loading or unloading time, these hours count towards the driver’s on-duty and work shift limits that can affect the amount of money that a driver can earn.
- The payments of vehicles and insurance premiums must be paid. A semi truck that isn’t moving, isn’t making any money.
- Rewards for falsifying a log can reach as high as $500 per week. Some employers will give unofficial or off-the-books approval for higher productivity or for good service.
- Family Obligations: Due to the fact that drivers are constantly on the road, family situations make it obligatory for the driver to spend more time at home when they are needed. Many times, drivers make up regulation limits by adjusting their logs to make up for lost time—when in real time—they are at home until the last possible minute. Just as the holidays are around the corner, drivers try to extend their “on duty” time so that they can make it home for the holidays.
- Shipping Company: A shipping company or shipper maximizes profits by getting the product from the loading dock to the customer in the shortest amount of time. There is always added stress from the shipper that is passed on to the carrier and then to the driver. By not planning far enough in advanced for calculated delivery times, the shipper can also add pressure when the product must make it to the market right away.
- Carrier/Employer: The carrier’s dispatcher sometimes makes unreasonable demands on the driver. When the driver picks up a load, the dispatcher may ask if the driver can deliver the load within a certain period of time. The dispatcher should ask the driver if the driver has driving hours available to make the delivery legally in that time frame however, that inquiry rarely occurs.
- Health Reasons: Each individual driver has their own biological clock with its own rest requirements. While some drivers may feel well-rested and start driving before the driver has had sufficient off-time duty as explained by the DOT, chronically fatigued drivers make poor decisions about the extent of their fatigue and downplay the risk .
Failure to complete the record of daily duty activities of section § 395.8 or § 395.15, or making false reports in connections with such duty activities shall make the driver and/or the carrier liable for prosecution
Aside from the danger of actually falling asleep at the wheel, studies show that truck drivers who exceed these limits are measurably less alert and react slower to crisis situations. Some drivers break the rules because they are paid per mile – the more they drive the more they are paid. Other times, drivers are pressured by the trucking company to speed and/or exceed hours of service. This inevitably may cause fatal car, pedestrian, motorcycle or other trucking accidents.
On the other hand, a driver may be forced to falsify logs by their company to work beyond the scope of the federal law. It’s up to the driver to refuse loads that cannot be legally picked up or delivered on time. Unfortunately for these drivers, if they do not follow the law, the driver’s name is the one on the log hours, not the company’s. However, if the driver does refuse and they are then fired, they can report the company under a whistleblower lawsuit. This type of suit is a part of the False Claims Act, which according to the Florida Statue 68.082, is when a person knowingly causes or assists in causing false or fraudulent matters.
This not only protects the employee but also can benefit the relator of the information if the case is won. For suing on behalf of the government and employees, the whistleblower that points out the fraudulent issues can receive part, or sometimes all, of the money that was won from the settlement.
- On May 24, 2010, Mr. Joe Oglesby, a former United States Marine, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), alleging that his former employer, Foresight Transportation Group (Foresight), pressured 18 wheeler drivers to work more hours than safely allowed and then to falsify their log books to avoid suspicion. Overturning the findings of a U.S. DOL investigation, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Richard Morgan held that Oglesby’s refusal to work more hours than permitted or to falsify records was a “protected activity” under the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 ( STAA) and Oglesby’s protected activity was the reason Foresight fired him. The ALJ ordered Oglesby to be immediately reinstated and awarded him $26k in damages, including another $20k in punitive damages…
Truck Accidents & Logs
When a professional truck driver is involved in an accident with another truck, pedestrian, auto mobile, people usually jump to the conclusion that is the trucker who is at fault. However, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website, “in fatal crashes involving large trucks, 88 percent of the time the crash is attributable to the driver error by both car and truck drivers. Troopers are on the lookout for aggressive driving such as: following too closely, unsafe lane change and speeding violations committed by truck and car drivers as they interact on Florida highways.”
Still, in a truck accident case where is it solely the truck driver’s fault, one of the first things thata law enforcement officer will do after the accident is to find the truck driver’s log book to look for potential violations. If there are violations and the driver is out of compliance with regulations, a victim can sue the driver and his/her company for as much money as possible.
Truck Accident Attorney
Trucking accidents can add a lot of stress to the lives of accident victims and the drivers of commercial vehicles. This stress is not limited to physical or concrete pain, but it also takes the form of outstanding medical bills, financial distress and emotional suffering. Fortunately for innocent truck accident victims, there is help out there for you that can life a significant amount of strain off of an overwhelmed victim of negligence such as the case when truck drivers falsify their logs.
On the contrary, if a truck driver is being pressured to operate their vehicles outside of regulatory standards because of their carriers or shippers, there is also help out there for you to be protected from penalties the illegally employer is threatening against them.
If you or a love done has suffered losses due to someone else’s lack of care, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Dolman Law Group . We offer a free consultation and case evaluation to help you get set in the right direction. Call (727) 451-6900 today for help.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765