What is a Logbook?

October 25, 2021


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Key Takeaways

Before electronic logging, drivers recorded their duty status using paper records in logbooks. Today, paper logbooks are no longer sufficient and fleets are required to use electronic logging devices or “electronic logbooks.” Learn more about why keeping a logbook is important and what information is recorded in a logbook.

What is a logbook?

In the fleet management world, a logbook is where truck drivers record their duty status. Driver logbooks were formerly paper records or hardcover books.

On December 18, 2017, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate went into effect, requiring commercial drivers to record their hours of service (HOS) electronically with limited exemptions. Paper record books were no longer sufficient, and fleets were required to install ELDs in vehicles. ELDs are also known as electronic logbooks, e-logs, or driver logs. ELDs also precede automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs).

Besides recording HOS rules, ELDs can also record:

  • Real-time GPS location

  • Engine speed and load

  • Fuel efficiency, idling, and auto mileage

  • Diagnostics and fault codes

  • Safety-related events, like harsh braking or collisions

These functionalities make it easier for fleets to manage compliance, vehicle maintenance, safety, and dispatching and routing.

Why is keeping a logbook important?

One word: compliance.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits truckers' time behind the wheel. This limitation is known as hours of service (HOS) regulations. It requires drivers to maintain logbooks to track their on duty hours. Drivers must log their hours of service, duty status, and rest periods for each 24 hour period.

A driver can be stopped by a Department of Transportation (DOT) roadside inspector at any given time. Drivers must have their records of duty status (RODs) available for the previous seven consecutive days. Failure to have the logs for the previous seven consecutive days or improper recordkeeping of the logbook can result in violations and fines.

Aside from compliance purposes, logbooks can be beneficial for:

  • Increasing safety: With electronic logs helping drivers stay in HOS compliance, everyone on the road is safer. Drivers take breaks and can get the rest they need to stay alert and focused on the job, resulting in fewer accidents.

  • Improving CSA score:  A Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score is an important metric for a fleet because customers can view it when deciding to work with you. Consistent logging helps businesses meet compliance requirements and avoid violations—which helps keep the score down. 

  • Potential lower insurance premiums: Insurance premiums often rely on CSA scores. Thus, with an ELD helping fleet managers reduce risky behaviors, coupled with consistent HOS logging, companies can reduce their insurance premiums as they’ve lowered their liability.

What does a logbook record?

Logbooks record driver’s hours of service and duty status for each 24-hour period. An ELD can help do this automatically with the push of a few buttons daily. However, if you ever need to fill out a paper log or want to know what information is logged, see the details below:

  • Date and start time of the day: The hour at which the day begins.

  • Driver name: If co-drivers are sharing duties, they should be listed, too.

  • Main office address: The corporate address of the motor carrier. Spell out city names, but abbreviate state names.

  • Home terminal address: If you work out of a different address than the main office. Spell out city names, but abbreviate state names.

  • Departure and arrival cities: Note where you started your day and where you ended it.

  • Odometer readings: Some logs may ask for the total daily mileage log. Some may ask for the odometer reading at the beginning and end of your day. You should note this information for all vehicles driven that day, even if there were changes to the vehicle.

  • License plate number or truck/trailer number. You should note this information for all vehicles driven that day, even if there were changes to the vehicle.

  • Driver status information: There are four duty statuses: off-duty, sleeper berth, driving, on-duty (not driving).

  • Total hours worked for each driver status: Add up the number of hours in each duty status. They must equal 24 hours.

  • Breakdowns and accidents: Document these at the appropriate time along with the city and state the incident happened.

  • Other remarks or annotations if needed. Depending on the carrier, this may not be necessary. Some carriers may want to know specific details about the day.

  • Signature: Sign your log before you submit it.

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