When Do I Need A Truck Log Book?

As per the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) of Australia, you may potentially need to maintain a truck driver’s log book. The key purpose of the regulation is to reduce the chances of accidents by ensuring that individuals driving fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles are getting adequate rest. Not complying with the regulations may potentially result in penalties. In case you happen to be a truck operator, you need to ensure that your drivers are maintaining their log books properly. In case you are wondering “When do I need a truck log book?”, the following information should be helpful.

What is a logbook and when do you need it?

A log book is essentially a work diary where drivers are to record their work and rest hours. It acts as evidence that your work and rest hours are in compliance with the regulations. The HVNL mandates that drivers of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles must not work for longer than the maximum permitted work hours. Similarly, your rest hours shouldn’t be shorter than the minimum permitted rest hours either.

Not all truck drivers need to use the workbook, and neither do they need to do so on every trip.

  • You need to use a truck log book only if the vehicle you drive falls under the fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle category.
  • As long as you are driving 100km from your home base, you do not need to keep records in the log book. If your destination is over 100Km, however, it is mandatory to carry your logbook with you.

What falls into the fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles category?

As per the Australian regulations, the following motor vehicles qualify as fatigue regulated heavy vehicles:

  • Trucks that have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of more than 12 tons.
  • Buses that are over 4.5 tons in weight and carry 12 or more people.

Exceptions from this category include motor homes or other vehicles that have similar GVM but are modified for use as off-road equipment.

What would be the penalties in case of non-compliance?

Not complying with these regulations, i.e., failing to maintain or carry your truck logbook may result in penalties. These include:

  • Not keeping records of the last 28 workdays can result in an infringement penalty of $630 and a maximum court-imposed penalty of $630.
  • In case you do not keep supplementary records in case of a loss or theft of your logbook, you would face the same penalties as above.
  • Failure to record odometer readings accurately or record the readings within the set time can cost you an infringement penalty of $158 or a maximum court-imposed penalty of $1,580.

In case you do fail to comply with the regulations and have the option to pay the infringement penalty and avoid going to court, that would certainly be the wiser choice. As you can see above, the infringement penalties are only 10% of the maximum court-imposed penalties. Paying up sooner rather than dragging the case to the court would save you a lot of time and money.

Can you avoid penalties for valid reasons?

Thankfully, the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) also provides for certain exceptions in case you cannot maintain the logbook for valid reasons:

1. You need a new diary

In case you finish your diary, lose it or it gets destroyed, you would need to purchase a new work diary for $25. You would have to maintain your records in a supplementary diary if you cannot purchase a new logbook within two business days. You may apply for the supplementary work diary on the NVHR website. However, you can use the supplementary work diary only for 7 business days, after which you would have to stop working if you cannot purchase a new logbook.

2. Disability or illiteracy

You may apply for a special permit if you cannot maintain a workbook due to problems like illiteracy or disabilities. In case the authorities approve it, they would exempt you from the mandate. However, you would have to nominate another person to fill in the logbook entries for you and carry the permit with you at all times.

Once you have obtained your MR license and decide to drive fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles, purchase a logbook. It would carry instructions on how to measure time work and rest times and how to keep your records.