The huge weight and speed of commercial trucks can be incredibly dangerous. Federal laws set guidelines for the trucking industry to help protect truckers and the public alike.
Some truckers break these rules. They claim they need the money it can bring or that they know their limits better than the government does. Other truckers accuse trucking companies of forcing them to break federal laws and increase profits.
After a truck accident, these details are often critical to holding people accountable for deaths, injuries and other damages such tragedies so often cause.
Many pressures to break federal laws
Some truckers and trucking companies put the public at risk by breaking the law in many ways, including violations of licensing, insurance, vehicle maintenance and other laws. Violations in work hours are especially common.
The current rules call for truckers to spend no more than 11 hours driving (and no more than 14 hours working in any way) in a 24-hour period. They must take a break of at least ten hours in a row in each 24 hours.
Recently, the government proposed more “flexibility” in these laws, although some claimed this would open the door to even more coercion of drivers to put themselves and the public at risk.
“Coercion Rule” can protect drivers from forced violations
To deal with the problem of coercion, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made a regulation often called the Coercion Rule.
It says employers and go-betweens cannot try to make a trucker break federal regulations by reducing their work hours, firing them or punishing them in any way. Even threats of doing these things break the Coercion Rule.
The FMCSA can punish the company, but the coercion rule is especially important because it gives truckers federal whistleblower protection if they report the coercion. Whistleblower protection is not available, of course, unless they blow the whistle.