Logbooks for truck drivers have been a source of controversy for decades.  Originally meant to ensure that drivers were alert and well rested when behind the wheel, some people contend that they have just the opposite effect, encouraging truckers to falsify records and/or use illegal drugs to stay awake longer.  How widespread such abuses are is a matter of debate.  Due to the move towards electronic logging methods, however, such concerns may soon become a thing of the past.

Electronic logging programs work along with GPS systems to record hours of service (HOS) records automatically.  They include start times, days on duty, the amount of drive time since the last rest period, cumulative drive times within an 8-day period, and total distance covered within a 24-hour period.  Sleeper berth and off-duty times are also recorded.

This data is recorded and transmitted through a message display terminal (MDT) that is located in the cab.  A simple push of a button sends it off through a wireless network to computers for storage.  The information includes the driver’s name, which vehicle he or she is operating, the trailer number, and the freight company.

Of course, not everyone is happy with the move towards electronic logbooks.  Organizations that represent owner-operators, for example, complain that requiring drivers to use them will impose unfair financial burdens on small business people, who are already struggling due to the slow economy.  Others are taking a different approach, claiming to have figured out ways to tamper with the devices that would allow drivers to ignore mandatory DOT rest and mileage rules.

Despite these efforts, it appears that the old-fashioned paper logbook will soon go the way of the milkman and the Model T.  Most major carriers are already using electronic logbooks, and Uncle Sam requires that carriers with a history of safety violations must install them on their trucks.

Will electronic logbooks for truck drivers lead to a new era of safe driving, or are they just another expensive government mandate that will do little good?  The debate is far from over.  One thing that’s beyond debate, however, is the fact that TruckingOffice is the best software for professional drivers on the market period; TruckingOffice can handle your dispatches, invoices, IFTA records, expense tracking, and maintenance.  Take our free 30-day test drive and see for yourself!