Reporters Finds Truckers Falsifying Logbooks

A CBS4 investigation has found that truckers blatantly falsify their service logs and stay on the road longer than they're allowed. Five-thousand people a year are killed in accidents involving trucks.

Federal rules require the drivers to record their hours in logbooks, but cheating is so common they are often referred to as comic books.

Early on Aug. 15, 2007, Denver trucker Peter Baumann's run came to a deadly end just short of his destination in Grand Junction. Baumann hit an Interstate 70 overpass, killing him and his girlfriend.

Grand Junction police said his logbook to record his driving hours appeared to have been falsified. The trucking company he drove for insists they were not.

CBS4 found such cheating by truckers is a common practice.

"I do lie to do it," said Leslie Emorie, a trucker. "It's the only way to do it.

"I will tell you that if we went to a truck stop today, you can go up to any truck driver, any truck driver and they will say either they cheat their logs or they lie. Flat out lie on their logs."

To find out, CBS4 reporter Rick Sallinger got into a semi and offered truckers the anonymity of a CB radio to answer the question.

"Do you cheat on your logbooks?"

"Everybody does," came the first reply.

"Why do you cheat on your log books?" Sallinger asked another trucker.

"Because the hours of service rule, the 14 hour rule sucks," he answered.

A different trucker responded, "If you don't cheat on the logs a little bit with the amount of driving hours they gave us, we aren't going to make no money hardly to buy food."

Truckers must mark down their time in their sleeper berth, time driving, and time on duty not behind the wheel.

"I ripped out the pages," Emorie said. "Everything is loose leaf. I have a bunch of new ones down here. Add those pages in then change the numbers to match what I need."

Steve Saar of Broomfield knows all about the subject. His sister, her four children and grandchild were all killed when a speeding semi crashed into their car in Arizona. The truck driver was killed too after falling asleep.

There was a recovery of a logbook and investigators found that the driver was working more hours than the law permits.

The Colorado State Patrol Motor Carrier Unit enforces the rules. Fourteen hours maximum on duty in a day, but they can only drive 11 of those hours and 70 hours in an 8 day week. Those are the rules that many truckers call ridiculous and often flaunt.

When a driver is stopped their logs are examined.

The pressure to deliver the goods on time is enormous.

In this case the logbook was not falsified, but it wasn't up to date, so the driver was given a $50 dollar and temporarily taken out of service.

Legislators on the state House and Senate transportation committees wonder if penalties should be stiffer.

State Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, said, "Public safety is paramount and we need to have a fine that is adequate to deter this kind of activity."

State Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Summit County, whose district lies along the I-70 corridor in the mountains said, "I'd say a $50 fine ... does that cut it ... probably no."

Trucker Emorie got caught cheating on his logbook. He said he'd rather quit trucking, than continue to lie.

The Colorado Motor Carriers Association said the vast majority of truckers do not falsify their logs. They say evidence of that are improved safety figures.

Last year the Colorado State Patrol found more than 13,000 violations of truckers' hours and more than 1,000 instances of falsified logbooks.

CBS4 in Denver, Colorado; February 18, 2008

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