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Rule To Protect Drivers From Pressure to Keep On Trucking

ARLINGTON, VA— The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing a rule to protect drivers from being pressured to work past the limits of the law.

U.S. congress ordered the proposal in the 2012 highway law, MAP-21, in response to driver concerns that carriers, shippers, receivers or brokers are sometimes indifferent to the operational restrictions imposed by the safety rules, the agency said.

The rules aim to prevent abuse concerning driver hours of service, the commercial driver’s license, drug and alcohol rules and hazardous materials rules.

“The consequences of their refusal to (continue working) are either stated explicitly or implied in unmistakable terms: loss of a job, denial of subsequent loads, reduced payment, denied access to the best trips,” the agency said.

The FMCSA wants to prohibit carriers and others from threatening drivers with loss of work for refusing to keep on trucking when continuing to drive would mean they’d have to break the rules. The prohibition would turn on whether or not the carrier or other party “knew or should have known” that continued work would violate a rule.

But the agency says pressure from carriers or others would not mean the driver is not going to be held responsible for breaking the rules.

“A threat would not constitute coercion unless the driver objects or attempts to object,” the agency said.

An act of coercion could lead to a fine of as much as $11,000. For-hire carriers also could face loss of their operating authority.

The proposal includes procedures for drivers to follow if they want to report coercion. Complaints would be filed with the agency administrator in the state where the allegation occurred.

The proposal was published in Tuesday’s Federal Register.  Comments are due by August 11.

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