One of the many advantages of ELDs is that they protect drivers against coercion. The FMCSA, as well as industry experts, believe that electronic logging devices would help drivers with coercion complaints by providing supporting documentation that could be used as evidence in coercion cases.
In a recent conference hosted by Stifel Capital Markets, John Seidl, who is a transportation consultant and accounts executive at Integrated Risk Solution, also echoed the same thoughts.
Seidl said, “If drivers are pressured by their carrier, a broker, a shipper, or a receiver to bend the rules to pick up or deliver freight even though their available hours have expired, they can more easily submit documentation supporting claims of coercion using ELD data.”
Electronic logging devices do provide supporting documentation that drivers can submit as evidence, but they still need to follow a required procedure before filing an official complaint with the FMCSA.
According to the FMCSA regulations, the driver should notify the shipper that he/she can’t complete the assigned task without violating the hours-of-service or other regulatory rules.
If the shipper doesn’t respond after being notified or still asks the driver to violate the rule, then the driver can file a written complaint with the FMCSA. The driver must enclose with the complaint the supporting documents and data generated by the ELD.
Seidl defined the entire process during his address. He said, “They have to object to the shipper’s request and if the shipper fails to respond, then they need to file a written complaint — and they must document it properly. That is where the ELD information comes in. And if the FMCSA receives a written complaint, they have to investigate. And while you guys [trucking companies] are used to being visited by the FMCSA inspectors for safety audits, shippers are not. So this [coercion] rule has impact beyond carriers and drivers.”
In addition to this, Seidl explained that repeated messages to a driver during his/her 30-minute break or sleeper berth period would also be considered coercion.
“If a driver is required repeatedly to respond to satellite or similar communications received during his or her sleeper berth period, or 30-minute break period, does this activity affect a driver’s duty status? Yes,” he said.
Seidl clarified that “the driver cannot be required to do any work for the motor carrier during sleeper berth time or 30-minute break period. So a driver who is required to access a communications system for the purpose of reading messages for the carrier, responding to certain messages — either verbally or by typing a message or otherwise acknowledging them is performing work.”
Note: It is to be noted that “repeatedly” means a series of messages that prevent the driver from getting the restorative rest during his sleeper berth period or break time.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes that coercion involves forcing and intimidating the driver to perform tasks that violate hours-of-service rules and other regulatory requirements.
This may involve threatening the driver to withhold work, seize employment, or punish him/her for not agreeing to operate beyond the Federal Motor Carrier Commercial Regulations (FMCCRs).
Electronic logging devices have numerous benefits. Helping drivers in the fight against driver coercion and harassment is an essential aspect of ELDs. Drivers should be aware of their rights — which includes filing coercion complaints with the FMCSA.
As a driver, make sure that you are using a compliant electronic logging device which provides you the data that you can use as evidence in the case of a coercion complaint. Use our free ELD price comparison and ELD features comparison tools to find the best, most cost-effective electronic logging device.