June Truck Safety Month 2004
It’s the logbook, stupid

—by David P. Gaibis Sr.

It is quite evident that the majority of truck drivers do not realize their logbooks are legalized lethal weapons.

The motor carriers, shippers and receivers could care less how long drivers wait to be loaded, unloaded or wait in readiness to be dispatched, which requires many unpaid hours and is logged as “off-duty” time. These are the reasons for what has become known as “truck driver fatigue.” It doesn’t require a scientific study. It is a fact.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has redefined the definition of on-duty and off-duty time, and it now is known as on/off duty. This was done at the expense of the motoring public and the benefit of the motor carriers and big business. The FMCSA has furthered this to include the use of the sleeper berth by a single driver just as a double team operation would use it. Aren’t they working enough hours already?

PATT and CRASH have filed lawsuits in federal court in opposition to the new hours of service. While, on the other hand, the ATA and others have joined the battle to ensure the new hours of service remain intact. Are you surprised? With the aid of the new hours of service and its loopholes and double talk, the motor carriers, shippers and receivers are controlling a driver’s logbook by the use of all these non-paid hours of work.

So long as drivers continue to falsify their logbooks, nothing will change. The motor carriers, shippers and receivers will see it as a blank pistol, which will be of no threat to them and their bottom lines. Drivers and the motoring public, on the other hand, will experience it as a loaded gun waiting to go off because of the fatigue factor.

Drivers need to realize falsifying their logbooks does not put more money in their pockets; it takes money out and causes unsafe driving conditions for themselves and anyone on the road with them.

Our slogan should be “It’s the logbook, stupid.” We should log everything legal and see where that takes the trucking industry. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. After all, the logbook is for “driver and public safety” only, not someone’s bottom line.

David P. Gaibis Sr. is a lifetime OOIDA member who lives in New Castle, PA.