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Is Drivers Daily Log (DDL) Legal?
YES! DDL is legal in both the United States and Canada. There are some requirements that you must meet to be legal. The same rules apply to Canada as the United States. The only different is you must have the last 14 days of logs printed and hand signed for Canada, and you will need the last 7 days printed and hand signed for the United States.
You must comply with the FMCSA Regulation 395.8. We recommend you print and keep a copy of this letter in your permit book, some DOT officers are un-aware of this "Interpretation" Please read the information below and the News item by clicking here.
Some DOT officers believe that DDL falls under 395.15. It does not!
However they still want you to have a printed copy of Instructions to use DDL.
We have completed a Law Enforcement Instruction sheet you can download and
print. We recommend you print and keep a copy of this instructions sheet in your
News Flash! 10 Jan 2002. FMCSA issues
'Regulatory Guidance' favorable to DDL users -
Jan 2002 Response from FMCSA p3
FMCSA (DOT) Web site: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov
Even though this discussion centers around USA regulations, a similar situation exists for our Canadian friends.
The DDL program has been available for about 9+ years, and I estimate that 220,000+ drivers, inspectors, auditors, small trucking companies are using the DDL in their daily work. I have been getting an increasing number of inquiries as to the legal status of DDL. Some drivers are reporting that their trucking companies will not accept DDL printed (and signed by the driver) log sheets. Other companies welcome the DDL generated log sheets, because they are neat, and the hours of service arithmetic is correct.
Special Note Regarding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(FMCSA) (formerly part of the Federal Highway Administration) and the legality
of using DDL:
8 Mar 2001
Letter to FMCSA - A proposal to try to get the FMCSA to start a
'pilot' program to allow DDL prepared and printed logs as legitimate driver's
duty status records.
Finally, the good news:
It may not be necessary as of 10 Jan 2002, but... If you have an opinion. Keep it nice and polite, Please. The two people that I have been in contact with:
Angeli Sebastian, Driver and Carrier Operations (MC-PSD) 202-366-4001
http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/contactus/hq.htm For more contact information.
It should be noted that there are also companies that encourage drivers to use DDL to help prepare accurate paper logs. They require the drivers to submit hand written log sheets, because their log auditing computer systems use specialized log sheets, and the computer systems are set up to audit hundreds, perhaps thousands, of log sheets per day using a scanning system and image analysis software. Drivers in that situation, use DDL to check their paper logs before submitting them to the company. I did just that during my brief driving career at TRL, Inc. It is not my intention to make DDL printed output compatible with these computer systems (unless it is relatively easy to do). I see the future as the wireless radio transfer of DDL duty status records directly from the truck to the trucking company, thereby eliminating the paper log entirely as the permanent record, required by regulations, to be kept by the trucking company.
So what does the regulations say? Are DDL prepared logs legal? It turns out DDL is a useful tool, but DDL falls into a sort of a 'no mans land' with regard to the regulations presented in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) Part 395. My copy is dated 10 Jan 1998.
Some of the pertinent FMCSR paragraphs are quoted here:
After reading the regulations (those quoted above and the remainder of Part 395), the following discussion is presented:
DDL is obviously not a handwritten duty status record, i.e. a paper log sheet. DDL seems to fit most of the requirements of 395.15, but DDL is NOT an Automatic on-board recording device (i.e. Werner Enterprises' on board system for example). DDL requires the driver to make duty status data entries. These are obviously not hand written entries, but are entered directly into the DDL program by the driver. All the other requirements pertaining to the storage and retrieval of records, and presenting them on demand both on a computer display screen and/or printed records is fully supported by DDL. DDL further calculates the driver duty status for both driving and hours of service violations, and presents this data on the computer display for immediate examination. As a result, I have had only good reports from drivers who have presented their laptop computers to DOT inspectors when a road side log audit was required. DOT inspectors seem to be a practical bunch of people, who welcome any convenience that the driver may use to make both the driver's and the inspector's work easier to perform. DOT inspectors are particularly pleased that the violations are calculated and displayed, and that these violations cannot be turned off when displayed on the laptop's computer screen. Many DOT inspectors are using DDL to help audit paper logs presented by drivers who don't use computers in their trucks. The Florida DOT is officially using DDL for their training and inspection work. There is also an increased interested in DDL by our Canadian friends: drivers, inspectors, auditors, and smaller trucking companies.
There has been one instance brought to my attention about a Federal DOT inspector who expressed the opinion to a trucking company that the DDL program is illegal, since 'it makes it easier for a driver to falsify his logs'. DDL does make it easier to prepare logs, and drivers who falsify logs, will probably continue to do so, but that does not make DDL illegal. If that were the case - if we continue the logic - then hand held calculators should also be considered illegal since they also make it easier for a driver to falsify his logs. A software example also comes to mind. Millions of people use Quicken Turbo Tax to help prepare their income tax returns. Should Turbo Tax be considered illegal too, since it would seem to make it easier for a user to falsify his income tax return. It is the false data entries that are illegal, not the tool itself. I have not heard any further about this situation, nor have I been contacted officially about it. I would be interested in hearing about other similar opinions or rulings.
So what can be said in conclusion?
DDL is useful, even if you still have to prepare paper logs. It appears that some trucking companies are taking a conservative point of view (hand written logs over DDL printed logs), since the FMCSR is not clear regarding where the DDL fits into the regulations. Eventually, the regulations will be modified to accommodate logs generated by the DDL and other similar software. Drivers who use DDL obviously use it to prepare neat, accurate, and violation free logs. Auditors and inspectors use DDL since it makes their work easier. DDL is making life easier for all users, even for drivers whose companies will not accept DDL printed output (yet). My goal is to make DDL available to anybody who wants to use it.
After all that discussion, it has been brought to my attention (especially by
our friends in Canada) that there is a growing acceptance of 'typed' or 'bitmap'
signatures on digitally generated log sheets. DDL v2.00 implements this added
capability for those users that need it. The 'typed' name in the signature block
is a DDL Settings option. The 'bitmap' option is implemented but requires more
instruction on how to produce the bitmap file and how to get DDL to use it.
Email (email@example.com) if this option is
NOTE 22 Dec 2000: - A driver has reported that a New
York DOT inspector is not impressed by DDL, and though a violation for
improper logs was issued, no fine was imposed. It is not clear whether
this is an isolated case of one inspector imposing his will, or if it is indeed
a state wide interpretation that DDL is not an acceptable version of 'electronic
logs'. You might want to carry some paper logs, to fill in if stopped in
NY and the inspector does not like DDL output or DDL printed and signed
output. Also, NYCVE does maintain a web site (
) which has a Links page which lists DDL as a good log keeping tool.
Weird.... END NOTE.
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