Studies have shown that truck driver error is the leading cause of catastrophic trucking accidents in this country. But the truckers themselves may not always be completely at fault. Often times they are put in difficult positions by unscrupulous trucking companies.
Unsafe Trucking Practices
In recognition of this dilemma, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced a proposed rule to protect truck drivers from coercion from trucking companies and other entities in the delivery chain. In particular, the new regulation is designed to halt company intimidation of drivers who express concern over:
- Driver hours of service rule
- Commercial driver license regulations
- Improper truck maintenance
- Hazard materials transportation
In broad terms, this new rule would prohibit trucking companies from firing or threatening other economic hardships on truck drivers who refuse to work in unsafe conditions.
Who is Responsible for Tired Truck Drivers?
For example, a trucking company shares in the responsibility of ensuring their drivers comply with federal hours of service rules. These rules establish maximum parameters that a driver can work each week. They’re designed to keep dangerous tired truck drivers off the road. Under this proposed new rule, a trucking company cannot force – via employment threats – a driver to knowingly exceed the hours of service rule, or other safety measures.
A trucking company’s act of coercion, however, does not eliminate the truck driver’s responsibility for following the hours of service rule. It’s just that a driver cannot be fired for objecting to a company order to drive longer than current rules permit.
If adopted, this new rule would go in place later this year.
There can be multiple causes for a trucking accident. As this new proposed rule suggests, both truck drivers and trucking companies may be responsible, based on their negligent behavior. That’s why, if you or a loved one has been the victim of a catastrophic accident, you may want to consult with an attorney experienced in investigating trucking accidents and dealing with trucking companies.