Professional truck drivers are used to being targeted by federal regulations that govern the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. Trucking safety groups continue to join with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA), and regulations continue to come out to ensure that these drivers are working safely. This is a good thing.
However, some in the industry argue is that most truck drivers take safety on the road seriously, and try their best to operate under the rules of the FMCSA. One of the problems the new regulations do not deal with, they say, is the battle between truckers and the dispatchers who work for their trucking company.
A recent example was made in the media of truck driver Abe Attallah. He told his dispatcher that he was too tired to keep on driving. This incident was captured on video and it went viral. The video shows that the driver was harassed and abused by the dispatcher to continue to drive, despite being fatigued.
The driver in the video was within his rights under FMCAS to stop driving. Attallah was eventually allowed to stop by the dispatcher, but was verbally abused and threatened by one of the dispatchers. That dispatcher brought up the family of the driver, noting that the driver should not be mad when he only gets a $400 paycheck that week.
According to FMCSA regulation 392.3:
‘“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.”’
After the driver told the dispatcher he could not drive anymore, that should have been the end of it.
The point is, most truckers want to operate safely under FMCSA rules. The next time the FMCSA seeks input from stakeholders on possible new regulations, it should keep in mind the dilemma drivers face when confronted with safety problems within their company and provide a framework to allow them to effectively withstand internal pressures to bend or violate governmental regulations.