How Logbook Fraud Could Impact Your Fort Worth Truck Crash Case

close-up of driver doing logbook updatesTruck drivers who cause an accident may try to cover up evidence of their negligence to avoid any trouble with their employers, the law or getting their licenses suspended. One vital piece of evidence truck drivers may try to alter is the paper logbook or electronic logging device used to track their hours of service and other driving factors.

Below, we specifically discuss paper logbooks and electronic logging devices (ELDs), including how they are used and if successful altering could impact a crash victim’s claim.

Need legal help after a truck crash? Our knowledgeable truck crash lawyers in Fort Worth are prepared to help. At Anderson & Cummings, we are familiar with the ways truck drivers and trucking companies may try to avoid liability for a crash. We have a history of proven success, having recovered millions in compensation for our clients.

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What Is the Purpose of a Truck’s Logbook or ELD?

Truck drivers use logbooks to manually record their overall work hours, drive time/hours of services and time spent sleeping in the truck’s berth.

In addition to the paper logbook, most commercial vehicles today also have ELDs. A truck’s ELD records certain data electronically (different from the truck’s event data “black box” recorder). The ELD records a truck’s daily vehicle distance in miles, total engine hours, location details and the duty status of the driver.

Do All Truck Drivers Today Use Electronic Logging Devices?

All commercial truck drivers are required to log their hours of service and other data, either via a paper logbook or an ELD. In Texas, all commercial trucks made after 2000 are required to have electronic logging devices installed. There are a few exceptions to the electronic logging device mandate, which includes:

Short Haul Trips

These are trips in which truck drivers operate within a 150-mile radius. For this exception to apply, drivers must be able to return to their work location within 12 hours. Truck drivers must also keep accurate records that detail when their trip starts, ends and their total driving hours.


This term refers to different types of operations regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

  • Drive-away: In a drive-away operation, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is driven or operated by an individual or company that is not the owner of the vehicle. This often involves transporting multiple vehicles, such as new trucks or buses, from a manufacturing plant to dealerships or other destinations.
  • Tow-away: In a tow-away operation, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is transported by another CMV, such as a truck towing a trailer or a semi-truck hauling another truck. This typically occurs when a vehicle is disabled or in need of transport to a repair facility.

Both drive-away and tow-away operations are subject to FMCSA regulations to ensure safety on the roads and highways.

Engine Age

Truck drivers who operate commercial vehicles with engines that were manufactured before 2000 are still permitted to manually log their hours.

Can Truck Drivers Modify Logbook and ELDs?

Both methods of logging are editable. Truck drivers can easily modify paper logbooks. They can also modify ELDs. However, the data that can be modified in an ELD is much more limited.

Electronic Device Edits

The way an ELD works is that it automatically records events while a truck is in motion. ELDs help to reduce hours-of-service violations, but they have not yet eliminated them.

Drivers cannot edit certain events recorded by an ELD. For example, they cannot edit drive time as non-driving time. They also cannot remove a driver’s login or logout records.

Drivers can, however, do basic edits to the following types of events:

  • Vehicle operator’s drive time
  • Any ELD software issues, such as if it malfunctions
  • Vehicle engine shut on and shut off
  • Truck driver login/logout activity

Drivers, as well as other authorized staff are able to edit certain events. Drivers cannot edit a recorded event as non-driving time.

How Can Truck Drivers Tamper With Logbook or ELD Records?

Truck drivers who are exempted from ELDs and still use paper logbooks could simply fill out their logbook after the fact. That way they never disclose any hours-of-service violations to the trucking company/employer. Truck drivers recording their time manually may also make duplicate logbooks. This method of cheating protects them in case they get pulled over for an unexpected inspection.

For truck drivers who only operate vehicles with electronic logging devices, tampering is more difficult, but not impossible.

Why Do Truck Drivers Tamper With Their Logbook and ELDs?

Truck drivers may try to tamper with their logbook or ELD for various reasons. Some of the most common reasons may include:

  • Avoiding Hours-of-Service Violations: Truck drivers may tamper with their logbooks or electronic devices to conceal violations of hours-of-service regulations, which limit the number of hours they can drive without rest.
  • Meeting Delivery Deadlines: Drivers under pressure to meet tight delivery schedules may falsify their logs to show compliance with driving time limits, enabling them to cover more miles in less time.
  • Maximizing Earnings: Some drivers tamper with logbooks to extend their driving hours beyond legal limits, allowing them to earn more money by completing additional trips or deliveries.
  • Concealing Personal Activities: Drivers may alter logbooks to hide personal activities or non-work-related stops during their trips, such as taking extended breaks or running personal errands.
  • Avoiding Inspection or Audit Detection: Tampering with logbooks or electronic logging devices (ELDs) can be an attempt to avoid detection during roadside inspections or audits by regulatory authorities
  • Minimizing Disciplinary Actions: Drivers may falsify logs to avoid disciplinary actions or penalties from their employers for violating company policies or regulatory requirements.
  • Avoiding Liability in Case of Accidents: In some cases, drivers may alter logbooks to shift blame or avoid legal liability in the event of accidents or incidents on the road.
  • Falsifying Compliance Records: Tampering with logbooks can be an attempt to create false records of compliance with regulations, which may be required for audits, inspections or contractual obligations.

Could Tampering With a Logbook or ELD Impact a Truck Accident Victim’s Case?

Tampering with a truck’s ELD or logbook could impact a truck accident victim’s case in different ways.

If the tampering is caught during the crash investigation, it could help to bolster the injured victim’s case. It shows the driver’s negligence, but also an attitude of not caring about the safety of others. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard of care to take steps to prevent causing harm to others sharing the road.

Sometimes defendants tamper with their hours of service. If an investigation shows the victim drove longer than permitted and fatigue contributed to the cause of the crash, the victim may be able to recover more compensation.

How Can An Attorney Help Me With a Truck Accident Case?

The thing to remember about any truck accident case is that it is important to contact an attorney as soon after a crash as possible. Truck accident evidence, like logbooks, ELD records or surveillance video footage may quickly get overwritten or lost. Truck crash cases typically cause catastrophic damages, which equates to thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is even before considering non-economic damages and any long-term care a victim may need.

Trucking companies and their attorneys will quickly act to reduce or deny any liability for a crash, so having access to all the evidence early on could help to strengthen your case. Having an attorney fighting for your legal interests helps you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your claim. Your attorney can quickly act to preserve evidence by sending a spoliation letter. This letter makes any destruction of evidence a criminal offense.

Contact Anderson & Cummings After a Truck Accident

At Anderson & Cummings, we are prepared to work tirelessly to negotiate full and fair compensation for your damages. If need be, our experienced legal team is prepared to represent you in court.

Call our law offices to schedule your zero-cost, no-risk initial consultation. We can answer your legal questions and determine what next steps you should take. If you have a case and we represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We accept truck accident cases on contingency, so we only get paid if you do.

Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. (817) 920-9000

*These are actual dollar amounts paid to clients after the deduction of attorney fees and expenses.


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