December 8, 2015 Prohibiting Driver Coercion 12/08/2015 The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has officially published a final rule that will “prohibit motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – including drivers’ hours-of-service limits; the commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations; drug and alcohol testing rules; and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs).” It is important to highlight, the Department of Transportation is extending the regulation by adding a focus specifically on shippers and by extension, any organization that acts on behalf of the shipper. For the full rule please click here. What is defined as Driver Coercion? Coercion, as defined in the final rule publication, is the threat or actual action of, “withholding business, employment or work opportunities from, or to take or permit any adverse employment action against, a driver in order to induce the driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle under conditions which the driver stated would require him or her to violate one or more of the regulations…” One key stipulation to this rule is that the driver is required to identify “at least generally” the rules that he or she would have to violate in the course of the delivery. In order for it to be considered coercion the shipper must hear this and continue to “coerce” or attempt to pressure/force the driver to violate the regulations. The rule has been published and will be enforced starting January 29th 2016. Any carrier, broker, shipper or shipping intermediaries who are found guilty of driver coercion based on the above definition will face up to $16,000 in fines. How will this affect the Industry? The FMCSA claims this new coercion rule will increase safety and driver health benefits mainly because they feel compliance will lead to a decrease in Hours of Service (HOS) violations. However, they do admit that businesses who may have previously taken part in coercion-like activities will lose whatever “economic benefit” coercion provided. Although capacity is not currently a major issue, some industry experts are projecting that a percent of capacity could potentially exit the market due to the rule. This in turn could lead to a raise in driver pay and subsequently translate into higher rates over the long-term. If you have any questions or concerns about how these rules may affect your specific business please feel free to speak with one of our experts.