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Trucking industry lobby weighs in on FMCSA’s anti-coercion rule

Written by Steve Gursten Posted December 1st, 2014

The ATA and OOIDA have differing opinions on a proposed law that would stop truck companies from pushing drivers to break the law

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Earlier this fall, we discussed a great new rule the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed to target trucking companies that coerce truckers into breaking the rules.

In the course of my more than 20 years of practice and litigating hundreds of serious truck and bus accident cases, it became clear to me that the majority of these crashes are not caused by a truck driver at all.  Yes, it is the truck driver that falls asleep and slams into the car, or the bus driver who isn’t paying attention and hits a pedestrian. But more often than not, the trucker involved is a good person working a very hard job, who was being forced by his company to violate safety rules, such as driving way over hours, or he will lose his job. Far too often, there is substantial pressure being put on these truckers to violate safety rules by the profit-at-all-costs mentality of many dangerous trucking companies.

Recognizing this, the FMCSA proposed a rule that would impose serious sanctions against anybody who tries to force truck drivers to break the rules.

You would think following the law is an issue everyone can agree upon.

But not the trucking lobby. In fact, the trucking lobby has pushed back. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said it supports the notion of prohibiting coercion, but has reservations about how the rule could affect relations between carriers, shippers, receivers and intermediaries. The ATA also cited the possibility of abuse by complaining truck drivers.

Another trucking lobby organization, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) expressed concern that the scope of the proposal is too narrowly limited to achieve its goals.

It’s interesting to see these divergent positions by two trucking lobby heavyweights. One group (ATA) is worried that the rule is too expansive, while the other (OOIDA) is worried that the rule isn’t broad enough.

Admittedly, it’s not so often that our lawyers here at the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable actually see eye to eye with OOIDA on a hot topic in trucking, such as raising insurance limits for dangerous underinsured trucks — but we’re pretty close on this issue. We  both support the anti-coercion rule, and feel it has so much potential to address one of the biggest problems in the trucking industry; the coercion of  truckers who then cause a terrible bus accident and are asked to “take the fall” by the company.

This rule protects good truckers who follow the rules, and for that reason, it has the support of all of our attorneys. It also has the potential to fundamentally change the trucking industry. It would give truckers a much needed tool to protect themselves from abuse and coercion.

And it will help law enforcement and attorneys hold these trucking companies accountable when they pressure drivers into causing truck accidents that injure and kill innocent people.

Related information:

FMCSA to target trucking companies that coerce drivers to break the laws

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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