In the era of CSA, more regulations continue to be placed upon the professional truck driver. Safety groups and industry decision-makers continue to believe that in order to increase safety, additional regulations are needed. It has become an industry which places regulations upon regulations.
Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has stated that “Zero truck deaths is the intended goal for the trucking industry accident rate”; an honorable goal, but an unrealistic one.
The manner in which the FMCSA and safety groups intend to reach such goals is apparently by enforcing more regulations upon drivers and the industry as a whole.
The FMCSA has a much bigger problem than they could ever imagine, or perhaps one they continue to ignore: how does the administration control the actions of individual dispatchers and others who have authority over the driver? This authority is directly related to the truck drivers’ ability to earn a living and to perform his or her job in a safe and professional manner.
The trucking industry is full of power-hungry dispatchers who enjoy holding this authority over their drivers, forcing them to continue operating the CMV under unsafe conditions and thumbing their noses at the FMCSA and industry regulations.
The professional driver who found himself in this all-too-often situation within the industry, was in his full rights to inform dispatch that continuing to drive would be unsafe. FMCSA Regulation § 392.3 clearly states:
“No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.”
Truck drivers have the full right and authority to determine when it is unsafe to drive, period. Once the dispatcher is informed by the driver, the conversation should be over. Clearly, this is still not the case as evident in the video and this is just one example from one motor carrier who employs dispatchers who use fear and intimidation to force drivers to continue to operate in an unsafe manner. Keep in mind, there are hundreds of thousands of motor carriers in the United States of which a large majority of these incidents go unreported.
This is the type of dispatcher who has no respect for the driver, the general public, the FMCSA or the professionalism of the vocation and should be terminated immediately. Heavy fines should be placed upon the motor carrier to assist in future prevention of such actions by dispatchers who use “Drill Instructor” tactics against professional CDL drivers.
The majority of our Nation’s truck drivers are grown men and women who through commitment and professionalism keep America moving and those who perceive themselves in some kind of higher authority should not invoke fear in a driver who is already dealing with fatigue. In addition, the sheer act of pulling the driver’s wife and family into the conversation is further sign of threat and intimidation by these so-called professionals.
Safety groups, as well as the FMCSA, should realize the bigger problem at hand. Adding more regulations upon regulations for the sake of trucking industry safety is not the answer and never will be as long as this type of behavior by dispatchers and managers continue to go ignored.
Drivers who continue to accept these actions with excuses such as: “That’s trucking” or “Just man-up” are also contributors to the problem and although many of these pretend to be driver advocates, are in actuality, puppets-on-a-string motor-mouths for those carriers who press forced dispatch.
This recent abuse of drivers are more the reason truck drivers need to become more involved in the regulatory process by attending MCSAC meetings and sharing their comments with the FMCSA. In addition, MCSAC members largely consist of law enforcement personnel, motor carrier officials and anti-truck driver safety groups; not a single current, experienced professional truck driver.
Although K&B Transportation met with the driver and apologized for the actions of the dispatcher and upper managers stated that this type of behavior would never take place again, one can only assume that it is all due to the fact that they got caught through the power of trucking social media and by a driver who understood his legal rights.
As a professional truck driver, should you ever find yourself in such a situation, utilize your legal and federal rights under the law to stop this type of abusive behavior. Contact regulatory expert, Richard Wilson of TCRG Consulting and attorney Paul Taylor of the Truckers Justice Center.
The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, as well as the FMCSA, must place this type of abusive behavior on their list of up-coming meetings and finally face an industry reality.