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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.

Click here to download this letter.

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 permit book.
Click here to download this Instruction Sheet.


News Flash! 10 Jan 2002.  FMCSA issues 'Regulatory Guidance' favorable to DDL users - 04 Jan 2002 Response from FMCSA p3
See below for the other two pages of the FMCSA letter of 04 Jan 2002 .  Good news for computer users. Hurray!
Check out Question 28 at the FMCSA Regulatory Guidance page 'Interpretations' for 395.8 Driver's Record of Duty Status.
The FMCSA finally 'published' the Guidance on the web. http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.asp?rule_toc=764&section=395.8&section_toc=1942&guidence=Y
 

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:

As popularity of DDL has increased dramatically , DDL has started to appear as a tiny but NOT insignificant 'blip' on the federal bureaucracy radar.  Some FMCSA (formerly FWHA) inspectors are interpreting the 'letter of the law' rather than the 'spirit of the law' regarding the FMCSR section 395.8 - Driver’s record of duty status, paragraph: (f)(2) Entries Made by Driver Only. All entries relating to driver's duty status must be legible and in the driver's own handwriting. A Montana carrier has been 'taken to task' (violation but no fine) for accepting DDL printed logs and hand signed by the driver.   The FMCSA needs to be brought into the personal computer age...

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.

29 May 2001 Response from FMCSA - A response that indicates that the proposal of 8 Mar 2001 is under consideration.  At least it was not rejected?!.  How many more months is it going to take?  Ans: 6 Months. See next.

31 Aug 2001 Response from FMCSA p1 - Page 1 of a two page response from the FMCSA.  The usual bureaucratic response - 'We need more information regarding safety and log tampering'.   6 Months for that. Gees...
31 Aug 2001 Response from FMCSA p2 - Page 2 of a two page response from the FMCSA.  A 'Regulatory Guidance' that indicates a paperless log 'digitally signed' does not comply with FMCSR section 395.8 - Driver’s record of duty status, paragraph: (f)(2) Entries Made by Driver Only. All entries relating to driver's duty status must be legible and in the driver's own handwriting.  I did not even request such a 'high tech' solution.  It was mentioned in my 08 Mar 2001 letter that a law was passed by Congress making 'digital signatures' legal.  It was proposed in my letter for a possible future 'project'.

2 Oct 2001 Letter to FMCSA - A measured response to the FMCSA request of 31 Aug 2001 for more information.  It is pretty clear to me that they missed my 'message' in my 8 Mar 2001 proposal altogether.  Try again. Stress safety improvements that will result if drivers don't have to fuss or worry about their logs.

12 Oct 2001 Letter to FMCSA - A 42 page analysis of the email sent to me regarding DDL.   Results:
1. DDL makes life much easier on drivers, who now don't have to fuss with or worry about logs.
2. DDL seems to be well accepted by 'field' level DOT inspectors. 'Not going to find any problems with your logs'.

Finally, the good news:
04 Jan 2002 Response from FMCSA p1 - Still no 'pilot' program but the 'Regulatory Guidance' on Page 3 removes the need for a 'pilot' program. Plus this letter specifically allows motor carriers to accept DDL printed and signed logs.
- Signature page.
04 Jan 2002 Response from FMCSA p3 - The 'Regulatory Guidance'.  Requires capability to print and sign logs on demand.  If you don't have a printer in the truck then carry a paper log book to 'transcribe' to and sign from DDL for 7 or 8 days. Motor carriers should now accept DDL printed signed logs without hesitation.  Print and show this Regulatory Guidance letter to your motor carrier.  There may be other reasons for not accepting DDL printed logs, but the FMCSA and FMCSR 389.8 regulations should not be one of their concerns any longer. Hurray.


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   angeli.sebastian@fhwa.dot.gov
Brian McLaughlin,
Policy and Program Development (MC-PSD) 202-366-8773 brian.mclaughlin@fhwa.dot.gov

Address:
FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION
400 7th Street SW
Washington  DC 20590

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:

Driver prepared log sheets:
395.8 Driver's record of duty status. (i.e. the log sheet)
(f)(2) Entries Made by Driver Only. All entries relating to driver's duty status must be legible and in the driver's own handwriting.

Computer generated duty status records:
395.15 Automatic on-board recording devices.
(b) Information Requirements.
(1) Automatic on-board recording devices shall produce upon demand, a driver's hours of service chart, electronic display, or printout showing the time and sequence of duty status changes including a driver's starting time at the beginning of each day.
(2) The device shall provide a means whereby authorized Federal, State, and local officials can immediately check the status of a driver's hours of service. This information may be used in conjunction with handwritten or printed records of duty status for the previous 7 days.
(4) The driver shall have in his/her possession records of duty status for the previous 7 consecutive days available for inspection while on duty. These records shall consist of information stored in and retrievable from automatic on-board recording device, handwritten records, computer generated records, or any combination thereof.
(5) All hard copies of the driver's record of duty status must be signed by the driver. The driver's signature certifies that the information contained thereon is true and correct.
(e) Entries made by a driver only. If a driver is required to make written entries relating to the driver's duty status, such entries must be legible and in the driver's own handwriting.

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 (frbjorklund@driversdailylog.com) if this option is needed.

Further, in an attempt to solve the ‘hand writing’ problem, some drivers are using font generation software that creates ‘hand writing’ fonts from scanned examples of the driver’s own handwriting. DDL provides for the use of any user selected font for the fields and remarks in DDL that are required entries and must be in the driver’s own handwriting. A low cost ($20) font generation software package is ‘Your Handwriting’ by Data Becker, available on line and in some major computer stores. This is indeed an ingenious way to abide by the ‘letter of the law’.


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 ( http://home.aol.com/nycve/index.html ) which has a Links page which lists DDL as a good log keeping tool.   Weird.... END NOTE.

NOTE 10 Jan 2002: 
A driver has reported recently that a Maine DOT inspector is also not impressed by DDL.  The FMCSA regulatory guidance arrived too late for this unfortunate driver.  It is important to carry paper logs as 'backup' to DDL, and a computer printer in the truck will also make life a lot easier from now on.

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Questions or problems regarding this web site should be directed to  "Fritz" at  frbjorklund@driversdailylog.com
or "Bruce" at bruce@driversdailylog.com

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Copyright © 1998-2011 Drivers Daily Log - Fritz Roland Bjorklund & Bruce A. Luebke.  All rights reserved.
Last modified: Wednesday April 13, 2011.