How to Fill Out a Paper Daily Truck Drivers Log

While It May Be a Chore, Neglecting Your Log Book Can Have Pricey Consequences

A truck driver holding a clipboard and leaning against his delivery truck.
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While e-logs are becoming more common every day, there are still a lot of truckers that rely upon paper logs. It is easy to become complacent or forgetful on filling these logs out. Drivers logs are not inspected daily by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and so it can become a task that is continually put to the wayside and falls off your list of priorities. But that can come back to haunt you later on.

You should complete your logs daily. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that logs must be current through the last duty status change. A DOT officer may cut you a bit of slack if your paper log is not updated to the minute, but then again, he may not. 

The DOT officer may not be aware that just because something is printed on a log does not mean a driver has to fill it out. For instance, the recap section is not a requirement by the FMCSA. Given this reality, it is important to purchase paper logs that have only the basic information on them. There are a number of companies where you can purchase your paper logs, including most truck stops.

Requirements for Trucker Logs

Below is what is required to appear ​ni your log:

  • The Main Office Address, typically the corporate address of the motor carrier.
  • Home Terminal, the address the dispatcher issues from.
  • Breakdowns and Accidents must be documented at the appropriate time along with the city and state the breakdown or accident took place in. The word breakdown or accident must actually be written on the log, should one occur.
  • Your log MUST be legible, including your signature.
  • Your log MUST be turned in to your motor carrier within 13 days according to federal law. Your motor carrier may require logs to be turned in sooner than this.
  • City names MUST be spelled out completely. No abbreviations (i.e. Indy, IN is not acceptable, it must read Indianapolis, IN).
  • States may be abbreviated.
  • If you drive multiple pieces of equipment in one day, every piece of equipment must be listed on the paper log.
  • You MUST initial all changes made to your paper log.

Common Reasons Why Paper Logs Are Returned for Corrections

  • Address field filled out incorrectly.
  • Missing shipping documents (remember you only have to fill out one of the two lines).
  • Beginning or ending city (this is the remarks section, NOT the from/to at the bottom of the log) ​
  • Driving/on-duty hours added up incorrectly

If your log book forms have extra lines for added information, you are not compelled to fill them out. Just put a long dash in place instead. Putting in a dash does assist during roadside inspections where the officer may not be as up-to-date as possible on logging requirements; it signals to them that the information is unnecessary. 

Properly filling out a paper log is not only a matter of company policy, but a matter of Federal Law. Hours of service violations can range anywhere from $1,100 to $10,000 per occurrence. Be diligent about maintaining your log to protect yourself and your company.