AUSTIN (KXAN) — Every semi-truck driver in the country is required to log the miles, hours, and destinations involved for every one of their trips. Driver Calvin Hicks has been writing it down in a book for the last 28 years.
“Every time we go on break, every time we go on duty or to load or unload something,” said Hicks while passing through Comal County on his way to Laredo. He knows law enforcement can pull him over at any moment without reason just to check compliance.
And the log book will be one of the first places they look.
“They can spring it on you at any time and you better be ready. You are in trouble if your log is not correct.”
At a House Transportation Committee hearing on Thursday, the Texas Department of Public Safety said the driver in last week’s deadly bridge crash had not kept an updated log. The Texas Trucking Association said drivers found without updated logs can face citations or penalties.
“In this case, DPS has already suggested they will be doing a compliance review on the company,” said TXTA President John Esparza about the bridge crash.
According to Texas law, drivers cannot drive more than 12 hours a day and cannot be on duty more than 15. Federal law for trips crossing state lines allow only 11 hours of driving a day and 14 on duty.
Any violations found concerning the log could end a haul quickly.
“If the log book is not in shape, (law enforcement) could ground the driver right there,” said Esparza.
It is totally up to the driver to mark down the proper hours in the log and truck companies might conduct a level of oversight, but the days of writing down hours inside a book are numbered. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will soon require electronic or computer logs although a date has not yet been set.
“The paper books are going away,” said Esparza. “The idea being there are less errors that can occur if logged electronically.
Hicks recently had a computer installed in his truck and he said if a trucker ever thought about lying or cheating on the hours in their log book, the computer eliminates that opportunity.
“After two miles of driving it ‘bings’ and puts you online as driving,” he said. “The big companies are already going to the computers to look good for the Department of Transportation and keep themselves out of trouble.”
The Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the deadly crash could take several more weeks. Authorities “will be looking at every nook and cranny” before any charges are brought against the driver working for Lares Trucking.
The investigation includes issuing subpoenas to interview the three commercial truckers involved to get their statements. Workers with James Construction Group, the company constructing the bridge, and Texas Department of Transportation officials will also be interviewed to determine who placed the signage indicating a lower than normal bridge clearance.