It’s likely you’ve already heard of the rule prohibiting acts of coercion designed to get truck drivers to somehow violate or bend safety regulations. It went into effect in January, and operators have been driving under it ever since.
The rule is officially called “Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Rule,” this regulatory measure – in very specific terms – prohibits fleets, shippers, receivers or other transportation operators from actively forcing truck drivers to break the rules.
There are three key areas that the final rule governs:
- What a commercial truck driver should do if there is an incident of coercion
- What the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) must do in response to allegations of coercion
- What sort of penalties will be imposed if a particular entity, whether fleet or individual, has coerced a truck driver
Where it comes to penalties, we are talking up to $16,000, which is no small number. The history of this rule dates to as far back as 2014, when the federal government was fielding concerns from truck drivers that carriers and others acted as though truck drivers weren’t governed by specific operational restrictions and regulations.
Specifically, the FMCSA pointed out that truck drivers routinely reported having been coerced to violate regulations with threats implied, whether implicit or explicit, up to and/or including termination, reduced pay or forfeiture of benefits or good working hours.
What You Need to Know
Since the rule has gone into effect, it has essentially forced the FMCSA to move truck driver coercion complaints to the top of their priority list. In many cases, when the FMCSA follows up on complaints, whether the operator was coerced or not, the agency oftentimes uncovers other things.
What’s the moral of the story here? You may have great CSA scores, but that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. If you aren’t focused on the specific processes and procedures involved in ensuring compliance, you might wind up with more than just a small fine for a minor violation.
There are specific areas of focus that the FMCSA seems to put more emphasis on, the first of which being hours of service violations. Hours of service complaints also seem to be the most often cited. The best way to do this is by ensuring you have the proper documentation trail outlining time and date. Are you utilizing technology to your advantage?
Another area to keep an eye on is your fuel reports when compared to your fuel receipts. Always remember that you must record the time of the transaction. Whatever third-party supplier you use, whether the receipts are paper or electronic, must record the date and time when the transaction took place.
Generally, inspectors will use information from your GPS system to cross reference your driver log information. Fleets still using older e-logs will have to square their system’s proprietary settings with what the inspectors will be looking for.
Watch for These Things
First, set your automatic onboard recording devices or AOBRDs to a synchronous setting as the federal standard for such devices. An area where fleets are seeing violations are often reported when the truck is marked as moving by the GPS unit when the AOBRD doesn’t concur.
The reason for this lies in that some AOBRDs account for speed and distance movement before the time on the GPS begins tracking. If an ELD is set at 5 miles per hour with no distance setting, then you may end up thinking you have “yard time” where there is none, thus generating a discrepancy.
In the end, whether you are an independent operator or a fleet manager, you need to ensure a policy is place to hold to a minimum standard where the potential for coercion is concerned. After all, the last thing you want to do is run afoul of new FMCSA regulations.