Daily log requirements for commercial vehicles

In British Columbia, commercial drivers must adhere to safety regulations. This includes keeping a daily logbook. Failure to keep a logbook up-to-date or tampering with it are offences under the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. But when and to who do these rules apply?

When is a vehicle a ‘commercial motor vehicle’?

A “commercial motor vehicle” is any motor vehicle, “used in the course of business for the transportation of persons or freight”. Trucks, tractors, buses, taxis or any vehicle used for business falls under this classification.

What the Motor Vehicle Act says

The concept of a daily log is established by Section 37 of the MVA Regulations. The daily log consists of information about the carrier, driver, odometer, distance driven, originating terminal, destination, and detailing each hour of the driver’s day spent on-duty, off-duty, driving, and in the sleeper berth. Section 37.18.01 creates the requirement for a driver to complete a daily log accounting for his or her time that day.

A driver must enter all the prescribed information at the beginning and end of each day to show his or her hours worked and distance travelled.

Section 37.18.04  states commercial drivers may not drive unless they have in their possession:

  • A copy of the daily logs for the previous 14 days (24 days for drivers of oil well service vehicles)
  • An up-to-date daily log for the current day
  • Any supporting documents or relevant records that the driver received in the course of the current trip

Section 37.18.06 of the Regulations makes it an offence to enter inaccurate information in the daily logs.  Drivers of commercial vehicles must also complete and carry trip inspection reports before starting work for the day.

Who does it apply to?

The requirement applies to ‘carriers’ who are defined by the Regulations as either the owner, manager or renter of a commercial vehicle if the lease has a term of at least one month. A driver of a commercial vehicle is not automatically a carrier.

Exceptions

The requirement to keep a daily log does not apply if the commercial motor vehicle is operated within a radius of 160 km of the home terminal or if the driver returns to the home terminal each day and spends a minimum of eight consecutive hours off-duty. In order for these exceptions to apply, however, the carrier must maintain accurate and legible records showing the driver’s duty status and elected cycle, what time they begin work and the total number of hours. The records must be kept for a minimum of six months.

Where do the rules apply?

The Regulations requiring drivers to keep records apply whenever a commercial vehicle is being driven on a highway. A highway is defined by the Motor Vehicle Act as any road, street, lane or right of way used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and any private place or passageway which the public has access to, such as car parks and repair shops.

The rules do not apply to industrial and private roads. Vehicles such as logging trucks, for example, may be exempt if they only stay on these roads.

Case law

A recent case from Provincial Court in BC has shed some light on how this offence is handled by Courts. A police officer undertaking check stops saw a tractor as it pulled off a highway. The officer followed the tractor and pulled it over. He asked the driver for his documents which were valid and in order except for the pre-trip inspection reports and daily logbook. They had no entries for the past few months.

Because the tractor was a commercial vehicle and was more than 160 kilometers from its home terminal, the driver was obliged to maintain a daily logbook and pre-trip inspection report.

In Court, the driver did not deny the documents were incomplete but testified he was only crossing the highway to get to a gas station, so should not have been required to complete the reports.

The driver said he was approached by the officer at the gas station. The judge said: “The location of the final stop is of little significance. Mr. Dassylva did not teleport to the fuel station. He had to drive to the gas station on a road of some type of which there are few in this rural part of the province.”

The judge accepted the officer’s testimony that he had seen the tractor on the highway. The question was whether crossing a highway even for a brief moment was enough for the regulations to apply.

The judge said: “ I do not find the language or the spirit of the MVA or Regulations support such an interpretation. It is clear that commercial vehicles are highly regulated and foremost of the Legislature’s concerns is safety.”

He added: “There is nothing in the legislation exempting a driver from preparing safety records where they are only briefly driving upon, or crossing over, a highway.”

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