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Truck Driver's Logs, Weigh Stations, and Black Boxes

What is a Driver's Log?
What are the Restrictions / Requirements for Driving, Rest, Sleep, and Maintenance?

Most commercial truck drivers, including long-haul interstate truck drivers, are required by federal regulations to keep a driver's log for each 24-hour period in order to track their maximum hours of service. (Certain local delivery types of drivers that stay within a limited air-mile radius of their normal work-reporting location, and certain transporters of agricultural goods are exempt from maintaining driver's logs.) Truck driver inattentiveness, alertness, or distraction caused by fatigue is a contributing factor in too many accidents. The federal regulations prescribe certain maximum limitations on the number of hours that drivers are permitted to actually drive and to be "on duty" in a given day or week. Drivers are required to maintain a daily log of hours and duty status. Drivers carrying property are permitted to drive a maximum of 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers may not operate a commercial vehicle for any period of time after having been "on duty" 14 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. (This 14-consecutive-hour driving "window" is typically thought of as a "daily limit" even though it is not based on a 24-hour period. Once a commercial driver begins work, he or she is allowed a period or a "window" of 14 consecutive hours in which he or she can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after he or she has been off-duty for 10 or more consecutive hours.)

Drivers who carry passengers are permitted to drive a maximum of 10 hours after having 8 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers carrying passengers may not drive for any period of time, however, after having been "on duty" for 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty.

Drivers carrying property cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle after they have been on duty for 60 hours in any 7 consecutive day period if the motor carrier does not operate commercial vehicles every day of the week. Where the motor carrier does operate commercial vehicles every day of the week, the driver carrying property cannot operate a commercial vehicle after they have been on duty for 70 hours in any 8 consecutive day period. A driver may "reset" his or her respective 60 or 70 hour "on duty" period for purposes of this rule each time he or she is in an "off-duty" status for 34 consecutive hours. For long haul drivers who have a sleeper berth/sleeper cab, those drivers must have at least 8 consecutive hours in their sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in their sleeper berth or off-duty, or some combination of the two, before they begin to drive, so that they have a combined 10 hours of off-duty time before driving again.

"On-duty" time is essentially all of the time that a driver begins work until he or she is relieved from work. Generally, a good way to think of "on duty" time is to think about it in terms of all of the time that the driver is performing work on behalf of the motor carrier, including activities such as the driver's pre-trip inspections of the vehicle, loading/unloading a vehicle, performing tests required by the federal regulations, attending to a disabled vehicle, and the like.

What is the Purpose of Weigh Stations in the State of Florida?

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) operates weigh stations in Florida through its Motor Carrier Size and Weight (MCSAW) division. The primary purpose of weigh stations is to monitor the size and weight of commercial vehicles in order to protect Florida's highway system and bridges from damage from overweight vehicles. All commercial vehicles - unless they are equipped with the PrePass automatic vehicle identification bypass system - are required to pass through weigh stations in Florida, no matter their size. This usually does not include rental trucks being used for personal use, although technically speaking, even rental trucks are expected to at least proceed through weigh stations to see if they will be required to stop on the scales. The purpose of weigh stations is to ensure that commercial vehicles are not overweight, and occasionally to perform random safety inspections of truck drivers and their commercial vehicles. Many weigh stations in Florida also provide convenient "comfort" facilities for truck drivers so that they do not have to take additional time to exit the roadways to locate things such as restrooms, shower facilities, payphones, snacks, etc.

Many drivers these days have the PrePass AVI system which permits them to bypass the weigh station. Other drivers may be directed by a red light to stop on the station's static scales so their exact weights can be measured by Florida DOT officials. In addition to the standard weigh stations, Florida also utilizes 23 Agricultural Inspection Stations operated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement. Agricultural Inspection Stations require drivers who carry agricultural products and materials to pass through for inspection in order to ensure protection of Florida's agriculture, horticulture, livestock products, and food safety.

What Data Recording Equipment, Sensors, and Black Boxes are Available on Semi Tractor Trailers?

These days, most commercial trucks are equipped with multiple forms of technology that can be utilized to capture data. Commercial tractors manufactured these days are equipped with an Electronic Control Module ("ECM") or "black box" that controls and monitors the key engine and vehicle functions such as braking, acceleration, speed, clutch use, and other functions depending on the who the engine manufacturer is. The data from the ECM can typically be downloaded using special software that allows the data to be captured and then analyzed. Many trucks are also equipped with other devices such as laptop computers, cell phones or radio transmission, trip recorders, onboard cameras such as dash or rear-facing, log scanners or automated log systems, in-cab communication devices such as an AVL unit for drivers to communicate with dispatchers, Qualcomm or OmniTRACS tracking system data, data logging units, collision warnings systems (CWS) data or a VORAD system to warn drivers of potentially unsafe closing speeds upon other vehicles, cellular communications data, Electronic onboard Recorders (EOBR) data, GPS or GLONASS satellite systems for tracking location, sunpass or other automated toll road data, or any other computer or automated data that might exist concerning the subject vehicle. Many truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea and may also carry personal sleep apnea treatment devices with them in their cabs or sleepers, some of which might contain useful data about sleep/hours of operation if the data from the device can be accessed and downloaded.

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