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Driver Coercion Final Rule Goes into Effect Jan. 29

November 30, 2015

By David Cullen

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Photo: Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
Photo: Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

A final rule prohibiting acts of coercion aimed at compelling truck drivers to violate federal safety regulations has been published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the Federal Register for Nov. 30.  It becomes effective 60 days after its publication date, on Jan. 29, 2016.

The “Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers” rule specifically prohibits motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations— including drivers' hours-of-service limits; CDL regulations; drug and alcohol testing rules; and haz-mat regs.

The rule also prohibits anyone who operates a CMV in interstate commerce from coercing a driver to violate the commercial regulations. 

FMCSA said the final rule addresses three key areas concerning driver coercion:

  • Procedures for commercial truck and bus drivers to report incidents of coercion to the FMCSA
  • Steps the agency could take when responding to such allegations
  • Penalties that may be imposed on entities found to have coerced drivers

Those penalties can include levying a fine of up to $16,000 for each offense on any “motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary that coerces a driver to violate the regulations listed in the definition of coercion.” 

The rulemaking had been initiated in May, 2014, per Congressional mandate in response to long-standing driver concerns that carriers and others often are indifferent to the operational restrictions imposed by the safety rules, according to the agency.

FMSCA said that during the rulemaking process it heard from drivers who reported being pressured to violate federal safety regs “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.”

The agency noted that truck and bus drivers have had whistle-blower protection through the  Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1982, when the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) was adopted. FMCSA pointed out that “STAA provides whistleblower protection for drivers who report coercion complaints under this final rule and are then retaliated against by their employer.”

“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,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. 

“No commercial driver should ever feel compelled to bypass important federal safety regulations and potentially endanger the lives of all travelers on the road,” he added.

Comments

  1. 1. Bruce Pelletier [ November 30, 2015 @ 04:25PM ]

    Okay. Let's see how well the new rule will effect a driver's paycheck. If you don't produce, "They" [The Major Trucking Companies] will cut you loose. In the transportation industry there are two types of drivers. You can chose to be a Matador or a Doormat. Me, I rather fight w/ the Bulls.

  2. 2. EZX1100 [ November 30, 2015 @ 06:18PM ]

    It says shippers and receivers. Are they prohibited frim forcing you to leave their property if you are out of hours?

  3. 3. Keith [ December 01, 2015 @ 03:36AM ]

    The next step for the Shippers will be to have every driver sign a release, before loading, stating they have the time available under the HOS Rules to complete the trip as requested. If you don't sign they request another driver or carrier for the load. This will attempt to absolve them of any wrong doing.

    With that being said, how will the FMCSA ever keep up with the arbitrary complaints of drivers that are mad at a particular shipper or receiver? The end winners? Lawyers? There are many things wrong with the transportation industry and I hope we look at this rule as a way to fix things instead of exercising old vendettas.

  4. 4. Keith [ December 01, 2015 @ 03:45AM ]

    My hats off to Cliff Downing and Tim Radwick from their Aug 19 2014 posts, may reasonable minds prevail!

  5. 5. Bruce [ December 01, 2015 @ 06:50AM ]

    Ok now this law may help some folks but what about something to help drivers who work out a notice to quit a company them try to get another job and all off a sudden job abandonment among other things show up on your DAC report and the only people that will hire you is the company you left

  6. 6. charles barber [ December 01, 2015 @ 07:17AM ]

    You know dispatcher r worried

  7. 7. Jeff [ December 01, 2015 @ 08:47AM ]

    It allows drivers now to sound off that he/she is being forced to violate regulations. No it will not prohibit shippers/receivers from forcing you off their property. Nor can there be any repercussion from doing so either, you are liable if you do not follow the law, and law enforcement will not look that direction just because you said the shipper told you so. And from a comment, if a carrier is using only DAC to make hiring decisions I would not apply to that company because they will only black ball you more should you leave. DAC is a worthless entity. Just the fact that the FMCSA has no found a way to make shipper/receivers liable is a great step.

  8. 8. Jenny [ December 03, 2015 @ 06:03AM ]

    This is great news, however, the industry should also address those millions of incidents where the trucks are not allowed to unload if they arrive "ahead of schedule". It doesn't mean the trucker has violated any rules. When you drive in teams, it is likely you can be ahead of schedule. Then you are forced to sit there with cargo unloaded because the guys at the docks won't unload you until your scheduled time. They won't allow you to unload on your own either due to union rules. This condoned practice is ridiculous.

  9. 9. Gee [ December 04, 2015 @ 03:18PM ]

    This should have went into effect today instead of companies trying to hide there CSA scores

  10. 10. Richard [ December 20, 2015 @ 12:50PM ]

    I read all these articles about more regulations, rules,and other bull to accomodate all the drivers that have no business riding anything but a little red wagon and it makes me wonder what the old real drivers that ran the asphalt for real companies like Ringsby, Little Audry, P.I.E and Montfort think.
    I can pretty accurately guess they have a hard time not rolling with laughter or puking their guts out when seeing what a great industry has turned into.
    We got er done with 3 logbooks, a set of sticks, unaspirated diesels with flame sitting on top of the stacks, a good radio and a nap here and there.
    From a real drivers eyes those were the good old days.
    We earned a good living with no babysitting and nursery stops!

 

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