United States adopts chain of responsibility to protect truck drivers

By: Brad Gardner


US transport regulator will be able to hold supply chain accountable if truck drivers are coerced to break the law.

United States adopts chain of responsibility to protect truck drivers
Companies in the US will soon be held accountable if they coerce a truck driver to breach transport regulations.

 

Chain of responsibility-like provisions have been introduced in the US, with the country’s transport authority mandating a new rule to protect truck drivers from unscrupulous parties in the supply chain.

Trucking companies, shippers, receivers and intermediaries will soon face fines if they coerce a truck driver to break transport regulations, such as violating mandatory driving hours to meet a delivery schedule.

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) developed the rule and says it will help prevent drivers from being pressured to break the law.

"This rule enables us to take enforcement action against anyone in the transportation chain who knowingly and recklessly jeopardises the safety of the driver and of the motoring public," US Department of Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx says.

The rule will take effect in late January 2016 and will carry a maximum $16,000 fine for each offence and the possibility of a transport company having its operation shut down.

"FMCSA will take aggressive action when a violation of the prohibition against coercion can be substantiated," the department says.

"This action will include civil penalties consistent with the regulation, and may include initiation of a proceeding to revoke the operating authority of a for-hire motor carrier."

The FMCSA says it has received reports of drivers being required to break the law under the threat of job losses, reduced pay or the loss of work hours. It adds that there was an average of 68 acts of coercion per year between 2009 and 2012.

 

Companies will need to think twice the next time they pressure a truck driver to make an unrealistic delivery schedule.

Posted by Owner Driver on Wednesday, 9 December 2015

 

FMCSA acting administrator Scott Darling says no truck driver should ever feel compelled to bypass safety regulations or endanger the lives of others.

"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."

The onus will be on truck drivers to make a complaint, and the FMCSA says they need to "supply the essential facts" to allow an investigation to begin.

Drivers will have a 90-day deadline from the date of an alleged incident to lodge a complaint and will have whistleblower protection if they suffer retaliation after reporting a party for coercion.

"Drivers alleging coercion will have to provide a written statement describing the incident along with evidence to support their charges. This total paperwork burden is difficult to estimate but is not likely to be very large," the FMCSA says.

It says some trucking companies may need to reorganise their schedules or hire new drivers to ensure they comply with the new rule.

"Additionally, the entities that practice coercion would lose the economic benefit of that coercion," it says.

 

 

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