The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to put an end to forced dispatch, and protect drivers from being fired for refusing to run illegally.
On Friday, the FMCSA announced procedures for truck drivers to report such instances, as well as penalties that carriers may face for forcing drivers to break federal laws.
Drivers shouldn’t be threatened for refusing to break federal laws.
“In formulating this Rule, the agency heard from commercial drivers who reported being pressured to violate federal safety regulations with implicit or explicit threats of job termination, denial of subsequent trips or loads, reduced pay, forfeiture of favorable work hours or transportation jobs, or other direct retaliations,” their ruling stated.
What the rule covers:
The FMCSA’s program was established to stop “driver coercion” by carriers and dispatchers. Under their final rule publication, the FMCSA defines coercion as:
“Any time a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, freight-forwarder, or broker demands that a schedule be met, one that the driver says would be impossible without violating hours-of-service restrictions or other safety regulations, that is coercion.”
What drivers can do:
Any driver being forced to violate federal hours-of-service restrictions or other safety regulations should contact the FMCSA division office in the state where the incident occurred, within 90 days, and include the following information.
-Any written exchange, such as text message or email exchange between parties requesting you to violate the FMCSRs, HMRs, or the FMCCRs, and your response to the request.
-Names of individuals that witnessed the coercion attempt.
You can find a list of division offices and their contact information here.
Penalties for carriers that force drivers to run illegally:
All reported incidents will be investigated by the FMCSA. Their ruling states that the agency will take “aggressive action when a violation of the prohibition against coercion can be substantiated.” This include civil penalties, and the possibility of revoking a carrier’s operating authority
Fines and civil penalties collected from carriers found to be in violation will be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund. Some supporters of the rule argued that drivers should receive a percentage of collected fines, however the ruling states that the FMCSA does not have the authority to compensate drivers or force carriers to compensate drivers for such claims.
Drivers will be protected, reports will be anonymous.
Drivers should be able to report instances of coercion, without the fear of reprisal. Individuals who report such instances, will not have their identity revealed to their company or made public, unless their identity is “necessary to prosecute a violation.”
The final ruling will go into effect on January 29th, 2016. You can view the full document from the Department of Transportation here.