Rule prohibiting coercion of drivers clears White House

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 11/13/2015

A congressionally mandated regulation to prevent coercing drivers from violating the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations is close to becoming reality.

The final rule was cleared by the White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday, Nov. 12.

The regulation has been much anticipated by truckers, who often find themselves forced with violating regulations because of pressure from shippers, receivers, brokers, etc.

The final rule is a possible game-changer, in that it will broaden the authority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to be able to enforce on those who put drivers in the situation where they are forced to violate the regulations.

“When a shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary directs a driver to complete a run within a certain time, it has assumed the role normally reserved to the driver’s employer. As such, it may commit coercion if it fails to heed a driver’s objection that the request would require him/her to break the rules,” the FMCSA stated in its proposed rulemaking in early 2014.

“By forcing drivers to operate mechanically unsafe CMVs or drive beyond their allowed hours, coercion increases the risk of crashes,” the FMCSA stated. “Reduction of these behaviors because of this rule would generate a safety benefit. Additionally, the operation of CMVs beyond HOS limits has been shown to have negative consequences for driver health. A reduction of this practice would create an improvement in driver health.”

To date, the FMCSA’s jurisdiction is over motor carriers. The agency has never had jurisdiction over shippers, receivers, brokers and freight forwarders.

So in order for FMCSA to enforce prohibition of coercion, the agency needs jurisdiction over shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long supported protection from coercion for drivers.

“It’s a good start to addressing the indifference of the rest of the supply chain to their role in safety,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.

“They have benefited for too long from their practices of making drivers wait with no regard for the effect it has on drivers’ schedules, the need for rest, or compliance with safety regulations. We would, however, like to know more about how the agency plans on enforcing the regulation as we continue to review the details of the proposal.”

FMCSA plans to publish the prohibition on coercion final rule in the upcoming days. Until then, the final details on who the regulation applies to and how it will be enforced is purely speculation.

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