Questions about Lunch and Rest Breaks, Logbook Violations & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of January 2016)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on December 14, 2015.
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LOGGING LUNCH AND REST BREAKS
Q: My manager and I recently had a discussion about how to properly fill out my logbook. I get a half-hour lunch and two 15-minute breaks each day. How should I log these breaks – as “off duty” or “on duty not driving”? Our meal period is considered unpaid and the breaks are compensated time. My manager said I am to log these breaks as “on duty not driving” because that is our corporate policy. Which way is correct, or are both ways allowed? Thanks – Robert in Arizona
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: Allowing a driver to record a break as “off-duty” is allowed under interpretations provided for 49 CFR 395.2. However, for this to be a proper logbook entry the motor carrier must relieve the driver of all responsibilities, including the vehicle and its freight, otherwise the driver is still considered to be “on duty-not driving”. A carrier is not “required” to allow its drivers to record meal stops as “off-duty”. You may want to contact your safety department to verify your company’s specific corporate policies regarding this issue as both ways are legal, but your motor carrier has the final say as to how they want it done.
KING PIN TO REAR AXLE LAW IN CA
Q: What are the regulations for 53’ trailers with spread axles in the state of California? Is there a bridge law difference with a spread axle? If so, how far can the rear axle be from the kingpin and still be legal? Thank you – Ken in California
A: Provided by Officer Jaime Nunez, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: In California, the King Pin to Rear Axle (KPRA) setting on 53-foot trailers that are equipped with spread axles is 40 feet. California Vehicle Code Section 35401.5(a)(1) describes the proper KPRA setting for 53-foot trailers. For trailers equipped with one axle, the KPRA distance is 38 feet or less. For trailers equipped with two axles, the KPRA distance is 40 feet or less. This distance is determined by measuring from the kingpin to the center of the trailer’s rear axle. There is no difference between a trailer equipped with spread axles and one without. The KPRA setting is determined in the same manner for both trailers.
LOGGING TIME IN THE SLEEPER BERTH
Q: When I take my 10-hour break, I log it as “off-duty” even though I spend most of my time in the sleeper. I was told this is a “gray” area. Should I log this time as “off-duty” or not? Thank you in advance – Bill in Wisconsin
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: The references to sleeper berth time found in 49 CFR 395.1(g) and the specific exclusion of “time spent resting in a sleeper berth” from the definition of “On duty time” found in 49 CFR 395.2 infer sleeper berth time is equivalent to off duty time. The following guidance question to 49 CFR 395.1 – “Scope of rules in this part” – makes it quite clear there isn’t any gray area as far as FMCSA is concerned. Any time spent in the sleeper berth is to be recorded as sleeper berth time. “Question 26: May a driver record sleeper berth time as off-duty time on line one of the record of duty status? Guidance: No. The driver’s record of duty status must accurately reflect the driver’s activities.”
CSA SCORING ON LOGBOOK VIOLATIONS
Q: When reading the CSA results for various motor carriers, I often see a violation for “395.8 Log Violation (general/form and manner).” Is this violation for missing items on a log sheet as listed under item “d” of FMCSA 395.8? Thank you in advance – Arthur in Winnipeg, Canada
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: Yes, Part 395.8(d) lists the eleven (11) items that must be included on the log sheet. If any of those items are missing, then a violation is noted on the inspection form for Log Violation (general/form and manner).
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted© by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on December 14, 2015.