Truck drivers usually despise the thought of spending so many hours doing paperwork. Few people truly enjoy it. Nevertheless, it is a necessary evil in many professions. Besides being boring, managing paperwork is a serious responsibility too. Record keeping tips can really help get over the monotonous and repetitive steps.
Documentation needs to be up-to-date all the time. Easier said than done, isn’t it? Truck drivers very often struggle with documents because they are not totally sure what kind of papers they need to have with them on the truck, especially the beginners. Knowing what paperwork is required while operating your commercial vehicle makes the job much easier.
Documents to have on hand
Let’s find out what kind of papers you must have on you and then we’ll show you some organizational tricks and ideas.
Your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is the first thing to be with you on the road. The consequences for not having it could be very very harsh.
Commercial drivers are required to obtain a medical certificate known as a “DOT Card” or “Med Card.” To be eligible for a CDL, you must pass a DOT medical examination and as proof, you have to have it on hand.
DOT numbers are required for all interstate carriers and trucks. You must possess your Motor Carrier Authority if you operate on your own authority (MC Authority). Your certificate serves as both documentation of DOT registration and authorization to transport or arrange for the transportation of specific goods and it is subject to federal regulation.
Your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road with you are the goals of the hours-of-service HOS laws. Every driver must record their HOS, which includes all driving, resting, and other time changes. Drivers had to physically log them until 2019, but since the introduction of electronic logging devices, everything is now done electronically (ELDs).
State-to-state variations in fuel prices can be significant. It makes sense for commercial vehicles to fill up where prices are cheap before passing through areas with higher pricing. However, that is not the case. Fuel taxes are distributed according to how many miles you travel inside a state since states use them to pay for transportation costs. States have pledged to cooperate to make sure taxes are calculated and paid fairly.
You need to gather additional documentation if you are transporting hazardous products. Along with the comprehensive shipping documentation, that also contains any necessary permits. Hazmat documentation also specifies how much of a hazardous load you are carrying and what you should do in case of an emergency. If something goes wrong, first responders rely on such specifics to guarantee everyone’s safety.
Collecting all of the required paperwork isn’t enough if you don’t have it on hand when you need it. It takes so much time to find a document in a bunch of papers. It must be organized and kept in a safe and accessible place, except for a CDL and medical card which should always be in the same place in your truck.
Record keeping tips
Truck drivers must have trip logs in order to be paid. Professional truck drivers have limited time and space for record keeping. We’re going to give some record keeping tips for truck drivers and provide a piece of advice on organizing your documents and making your work a little bit easier.
As a truck driver, you need to keep trip reports, expense receipts, maintenance receipts, and other types of documents mentioned above.
- Keep copies of documents and make your own set of records. In order to be paid properly, you need to turn in your papers. Once you submit them, you’ll be left empty-handed. There are many different apps that can give you a hand with this. Scan your papers and organize them into categories. Whenever you need a copy, you can access everything in a digital file you’ve created by scanning your papers.
- Keep a notebook of your trips. Get yourself a quality notebook and start keeping records. Make sure to write down the start date and end date of your trip, trailer number, the total of miles of the trip, drops, pick-ups, fuel receipts, or any other expenses. Make a special section in your notebook called Notes and keep a record of any things out of the ordinary, any instructions your dispatcher has given you along the way on your trip.
- The envelope system is great for owner-operators. An 8,5*11 envelope will be very useful. Put all of the documents from your trip in the envelope. Make sure to have a trip summary at the back of the envelope as well.
- A ringed binder with transparent plastic covers is a great suggestion for keeping your files organized. It keeps things close at hand and protects against rips and spills.
Although it may not be enjoyable, keeping records is a regular duty for truck drivers. You can obtain the data you require when you need it most by keeping your files organized. Even while keeping records may be tedious at times, you’ll be very glad you made the effort to do so.