Driver Coercion Law Published, Are You Compliant?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) published the new rule that prohibits companies from pressuring truck drivers to operate their vehicles illegally. The rule will go into effect January 30, 2016.

This is a good rule. If we want truck drivers to follow driving hours limits and other safety-enhancing laws, we (as consumers, as carriers, as shippers) cannot expect them to skirt the very laws designed to keep us and our highways safe.

The interesting part, however, is the wording (taken from James Jaillet’s piece at the Commercial Carriers Journal):

The rule defines coercion as: “A threat by a motor carrier, shipper, receiver or transportation intermediary, or their respective agents…to withhold business, employment or work opportunities from or to take or permit any adverse employment action against a driver in order to induce” the trucker to drive “under conditions which the driver stated would require him or her to violate one more more of” FMCSA regulations.

I want to highlight one particular phrase, “…to withhold business…”

Does this mean that if a driver, particularly an owner-operator, doesn’t win a bid for a certain job and deems that the reason he or she didn’t win was because his competition was willing to drive more hours than are legal in a single day or skirt other legalities, he can report a business and they can be fined?

Now, more than ever, it is imperative for shippers to work with carriers and/or brokers who are trustworthy; who know the laws; who can protect their clients.

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