The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is planning a study of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the commercial motor vehicle industry, especially among drivers. FMCSA said it wants to learn more about how to support women currently in these jobs and those seeking to enter the industry.
The agency published a notice on Feb. 8 asking for information on how best to design and conduct a study to identify, categorize, and assess context and trends of sexual assault and harassment in the industry.
For example, FMCSA is looking for information on how to treat categories of gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity in the study, as well as best practices in designing questions that use the latest standards for SASH research and address the breadth and lifecycles of careers in the CMV industry.
This study builds on recommendations from FMCSA’s Women of Trucking Advisory Board. FMCSA will use the results of this study to:
- Understand potential regulatory or policy measures needed to improve driver safety and mitigate sexual harassment and assault.
- Work with industry partners on outreach and other efforts to improve driver safety through prevention.
- Support the participation of women in the CMV industry.
WOTAB and Sexual Harassment and Assault
Sexual harassment and assault were one of the first things addressed by WOTAB. During the inaugural meeting of the group in November 2022, members shared personal stories of their experiences with harassment and assault, including rape.
During that meeting, FMCSA released the results of its Crime Prevention for Truckers Survey, conducted by Battelle under contract to FMCSA.
More than 600 truckers responded to the survey, which evaluated harassment of women and minority men truckers, with incidents among non-minority men serving as a control group.
The study found that harassment and crime against drivers are prevalent. Drivers reported a range of harassment types, such as being called offensive names or threatened with weapons. FMCSA pointed out that harassment is not limited by gender and race; it extends to religion, lifestyle, and sexual orientation.
However, that study concluded that women truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to crimes that are sexual in nature and are more likely to experience harassment from another truck driver or from trainers.
The largest difference between men and women responding to the survey was that they “got touched inappropriately,” the most severe of the options the survey outlined. Of those, 33% of women, compared to only 8% of minority males and 14% of non-minority males.
The study found that many harassment incidents go unreported, with most respondents saying they did not think reporting harassment would make a difference. Many feared retaliation.
When the study was released, the agency got comments from industry groups and organizations focused on researching and stopping violence against women and sexual harassment and assault. There was concern that the FMCSA study was not comprehensive and that more questions needed to be asked.
What FMCSA Wants to Know Before it Starts its Research
In its request for input on the design of this study, FMCSA is asking the following questions.
1. What is the optimal study design? FMCSA is considering a survey and interview approach, as well as potential peer reviews of findings at key milestones throughout the study. What type of study design will best characterize the nature and scope of sexual assault and sexual harassment within the CMV industry that can be used to develop appropriate countermeasures?
2. What are best practices or methods for capturing gender identity information?
3. What are best practices to consider when asking demographic questions about sexual orientation and ethnicity?
4. Are there other categories of participant demographics that would improve the study, such as education, age, income, length of time in position (or in the industry), segment of the CMV industry, geographic region of operation, etc?
5. Who should be included in the study?
6. How can the research incorporate stakeholder input and feedback throughout the study (surveys, individual interviews, focus groups, or other formats)?
7. What research is available for designing and administering questions about sexual assault and sexual harassment? For instance, style of questions, sequencing, repetition, phrasing, etc.
8. What are the best methods to capture these issues and trends throughout the evolution of one’s career?
9. What categories of questions should FMCSA include that will ensure a comprehensive approach to the issue?
10. What are good practices for informing stakeholders and the public at key milestones during a long study? How can FMCSA best disseminate information to keep stakeholders informed without compromising the integrity of the study?
Comments are due by March 11: https://www.regulations.gov/docket/FMCSA-2024-0061/document