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Logbook prosecutions: the difficulties for employers and operators

NZ Heavy Haulage Association awards

A one-month licence suspension for a logbook offence isn’t just an inconvenience for the driver, it’s as bad for their employer and for affected clients that suffer delays.

Additionally, a fine of up to $2000 per offence can be levied on the driver and up to $25000 on their employer. According to police records obtained by DT Driver Training, 324 drivers were summoned to court for logbook offences in 2017. 1935 other drivers received fines ranging from $150-500 and between 10 and 35 demerit points for offences dealt with by police at the roadside.
In a competitive environment, any unnecessary cost to a company is unwelcome, especially when it’s relatively straightforward to avoid it completely. While the intricacies logbook and work time rules are not exactly simple for all drivers to understand, there are options for drivers and employers to ensure they know the requirements, such as a factsheet from NZTA,  completing an online logbook course or going and getting practical training.

What are an employer’s obligations?

Employers must understand which of their drivers are subject to work-time requirements, what constitutes ‘work time’, what information to get from their drivers, what records need to be kept (e.g. fuel and accommodation receipts) and to check the yellow logbook sheets don’t have errors. Some employers are also surprised to find out that some class 1 vehicles are covered under work-time rules while some class 2 vehicles are not.

What are a driver’s obligations?

Drivers must know what their minimum rest breaks and maximum work hours are, maintain only one logbook and keep it up-to-date to the last break, fill it out accurately and legibly and retain it for at least 12 months after the last entry.
However, there are many special cases such as secondary employment, unexpected delays, using multiple vehicles, dealing with non-driving days and more.

Why do we have work-time rules?

Fatigue is one of the major cause of accidents on our roads. Work-time rules compel drivers to take breaks. This also creates a level playing field for all operators. While some people might think our work-time rules are strict, they are more lenient than those in Europe where drivers must take a break after 4.5 hours rather than 5.5, the break must be 45 minutes rather than 30, they can only drive 9 hours in a day rather than 13 and they must take a 45-hour rest break every week versus our 24-hour rest after 70 hours of work.

What steps should you take?

Darren Cottingham of DT Driver Training says, “If you are a driver, ensure you are aware of your logbook requirements. You might not have been stopped in a while, so if you’re getting your logbook sheets wrong over a period of weeks or months, it can easily add up to a $500 fine and 30 demerit points.”
According to the statistics, almost 1500 drivers produced a logbook with errors or omissions, leading to over $270,000 in fines. A further 439 drivers received a $500 fine and 35 demerit points for failing to produce a current logbook on demand.

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