Highway Bill allows for Financial penalties for carrier abuse
There is a fine line that separates Persuasion and Coercion. The Dictionary defines persuasion as “the act of causing people to do or believe something.” It also states coercion is “to make someone do something by using force or threats.”
Both actions result in someone doing something they do not want to do, but coercion utilizes force or threats. As members of the supply chain, we own the responsibility to please each customer, but it is also our duty to protect our most valuable assets and those are our drivers. No life is worth a truckload of product. Recognizing that a customer is upset because a truckload of cargo is a day late is important but pales in comparison to placing a person’s life at risk.
In the transportation business, carriers are persuaded every day to do things they do not want to do. Drivers may be persuaded to move a load to a less desirable location or haul a load that may make their trailer smell foul, but in the end, many do so with the reward of monetary compensation. Although they may be persuaded to take a particular load, their actions, nor the actions of the shipper or broker, are breaking the law. The driver is willingly doing something that they do not want to and are being compensated for it.
Unfortunately, carriers have been coerced in this industry for years to do things they don’t want to do as well. Threatening carriers with their jobs and livelihood is a far more dangerous practice. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “coercion occurs when a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary threatens to withhold work from, take employment action against, or punish a driver for refusing to operate in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).” These threats or acts of force can potentially influence drivers and carriers in a negative manner which can lead them to commit illegal acts. Such illegal acts can range from drivers exceeding their hours of service, not taking mandatory breaks, and exceeding the speed limit. Not only is coercion unethical, it is also now illegal in the transportation industry and carries a fine of $16,000.
When it comes to transportation, there are many laws and regulations set by the federal government and it is up to each individual driver to know what these laws are and what must be done to abide them. As transportation brokers, it is essential that we also know the transportation laws set forth by the federal government. While it is impossible for each of us to know how many hours a driver has been on the road or when their next mandatory break will need to be made. It is up to the dispatcher and driver to know what is possible within a specified time frame. As transportation providers, it is important that we understand what can be done legally compared to what is lawfully impossible. There is no replacement for common sense and treating motor carriers with respect. Now it is legally enforceable that you are doing what is right and safe for all parties involved.
-Jimmy DeMatteis with special thanks to Jason Poulter and ALC