We tend to assume it’s a given that no one should be made to break the law – it’s one of the tenets we rest on as a society. So it would be ridiculous to have to put additional laws in place that say employers can’t force their employees to break or ignore rules and regulations.
And yet experience shows we need to.
These sorts of laws are especially important for workers like bus and truck drivers, who too often are coerced into operating unsafe vehicles, exceeding hours of service limitations, or committing other unlawful acts, all in the name of profit. Asked by employers to meet demands to complete trips within certain timeframes or to show passengers around a destination after arrival, drivers frequently must choose between acquiescing in order to preserve their jobs, and refusing with the risk of losing hours or even employment altogether.
This sort of Catch-22 puts drivers’ well-being at risk: if drivers violate safety regulations in order to preserve their livelihoods, they are putting themselves in the very situations those regulations are designed to prevent. And in turn, those violations make the vehicles they operate and the roads they drive on less safe for passengers and other drivers.
Fortunately, Congress and federal regulators have stepped in to help solve this problem. Recognizing that the economics of the motor carrier industry sometimes result in drivers being coerced by their employers to break the law, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a proposed rule that prohibits such coercion. This rule would provide drivers with clear protection against threats of losing work or their jobs if they object to operating a bus or truck under circumstances which their employer knows – or ought to know – would cause them to violate federal regulations. TTD has submitted comments in support of this rule, and is pleased that FMCSA recognizes how crucial and pressing an issue this is.
TTD and our member unions have long fought to improve the safety of buses and trucks, and of the drivers that make intercity travel possible. We believe that workers who have the courage to speak up in order to keep themselves and others safe should be commended, not punished.
Because which road would you rather be on: one on which all the drivers can take the necessary actions to ensure their safety, or one on which drivers have had to neglect regulations and sleep in order to keep their jobs? We at TTD know our answer, and we applaud FMCSA for knowing it too.