On November 30, 2015, the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its final rule intended to help prevent commercial truck and motor coach drivers from being compelled to violate US hours of service regulations; enforcement targets shippers, receivers and freight forwarders/brokers as well as motor carriers.
The final rule, which becomes effective January 29, 2016, establishes procedures for commercial truck and motor coach drivers to report incidents of coercion to FMCSA, identifies the steps the agency could take in response to allegations, and establishes penalties for entities found to have coerced drivers.
The penalty for non-compliance can go up to US$16,000 (FMCSA had originally proposed a US$11,000 fine).
The new rule defines the meaning of “coercion” (see the amendment to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Section 390.5, as well as on this webpage), and indicates the obligation by drivers to inform the motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary when he or she cannot make the requested trip without violating one or more of the regulations listed in the definition.
In formulating the rule, FMCSA heard from commercial drivers who reported being pressured to violate federal safety regulations with implicit or explicit threats of job termination, denial of subsequent trips or loads, reduced pay, forfeiture of favorable work hours or transportation jobs, or other direct retaliations.
Drivers have 90 days to report a coercion incident and must provide details supporting a claim, including text messages or e-mails between parties involved and a description of their response to the incident.