It is expected that the final rule mandating the use of Electronic Logging Devices (“ELDs”) will be published shortly. The rule will take effect two (2) years after it is published in the Federal Register.
Under the proposed new rule, truck drivers who are required to keep duty status records will have to track their hours-of-service (“HOS”) with an ELD, which had previously been referred to as Electronic Onboard Recorders. The ELDs will effectively replace paper logs, which can be easily altered.
The Prohibition of Driver Coercion (“PDC”) rule is also set for publication on September 30, 2015. Although not specifically related to the ELD rule, it was designed to address an issue with the original ELD rule, which had been struck down by the court after its publication. The prior ELD rule, published in 2011, had been struck down after drivers complained that motor carriers and shippers would improperly use the ELDs to harass them and coerce them to violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”).
The PDC rule is incredibly important for the vast majority of truckers who do follow the safety rules. The rule is designed to protect safety-conscious truckers from retaliatory conduct by motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders. Specifically, carriers, brokers and freight forwarders cannot threaten to withhold, or actually withhold, current or future business, employment, pay or work opportunities from a driver that refuses to violate the safety rules.
With that said, truckers must know that an act of coercion does not excuse them from having to abide by the safety rules. For example, if a trucker is found in violation of the safety rules, even in an instance of coercion, they will be held responsible for the violation and punished accordingly.
The PDC rule requires the implementation of a system for drivers to file coercion or harassment complaints with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”).
If there is proof of coercion, the FMCSA may impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per offense and may also suspend, amend or revoke the operating authority of the violator. If the PDC rule is violated, the penalties are appropriately serious, but, in my opinion, they should be more severe.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a crash with a truck or bus, it is recommended that you consult with legal counsel immediately to discuss your rights.