Are drivers still being pressured to drive?

A federal rule prohibits carriers and shippers from pressuring a truck driver to drive when they know it would violate federal regulations. The onus, though, is on the driver to report the coercion.

Despite a rule against forcing drivers to knowingly violate federal regulations, it’s unclear if it has helped

A little more than a year ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began enforcing a federal coercion rule against stakeholders in the supply chain. While the rule, officially called the Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers (coercion rule) and formerly enacted on Jan. 29, 2016, applies to anyone in the supply chain, it is most commonly considered a driver protection rule.

What it does not seem to have done, though, is increase the number of coercion complaints. That could change come December, though, as truck drivers with their newly installed (and mandated) electronic logging devices (ELD), feel empowered to more actively report coercion by shippers or their carrier employers.

“I have not seen any particular police action regarding coercion,” David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association, told FreightWaves. “I am hoping that the agency will start to look at this language as the [ELD] compliance date draws near in an effort to combat detention time. As of December, they will finally have electronic proof of detention time, whether they choose to do something about it is the million-dollar question.”

Officially, the coercion rule came about because drivers complained of being forced to violate federal regulations related to things such as hours-of-service, CDL, drug and alcohol testing, and the transportation of hazardous materials.

“During the four-year period from 2009 through 2012, OSHA determined that 253 whistleblower complaints from CMV drivers had merit.” FMCSA said in the official documentation announcing the rule. “In the same period, FMCSA validated 20 allegations of motor carrier coercion of drivers that were filed with DOT’s OIG. This is an average of 68.25 acts of coercion per year during the four-year period.”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.