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What Are Truck Driver Rights in the USA

08 August 2022 | 0 comments | Posted by Arumugam Madhaiyan in Get Court

Rights of a truck driver in the USA

The trucking industry is on the rise. Now, the Biden-Harris Administration has plans in development to increase America’s trucking workforce. While improving the industry may seem like an upgrade, it has some drawbacks associated with it.

With the rise in trucking companies, truck accidents are also rising. Since 2009, there has been a 52% increment in truck accidents. 2018 saw the most truck accident in the period between 2009-2018. In 2019, there were 7000 more truck accidents than the previous year. Truck accidents are still on the rise.

Trucking companies are the reason

Trucking companies place a vital role in causing these accidents. While they are not directly the cause of accidents, they still are a major reason. Many believe truck drivers are the reason for an accident. People stereotype truck drivers to be as arrogant alcoholics. However, drunk driving is not a top reason for truck accidents.

The trucking companies force the driver to work past their shift time. Now, driving is a very tiring job. If the driver works continuously, they will become fatigued. A tired driver will not react quickly to the incoming traffic, which results in an accident.

In addition, the truck drivers are expected to achieve unreasonable deadlines set by the management. Drivers are indirectly forced to drive at an unsafe speed to achieve this goal. The companies do this to ship more cargo to gain more profit. Truck drivers are sacrificial lambs for the companies to make a profit.

Truck driver rights

If you are a truck driver, it is essential for you to know that you can’t be forced. A trucking company cannot force you to overwork. US government takes the truck accident problem seriously.

Many laws are enforced to prevent drivers from overworking. A truck driver must know about these laws to avoid overworking. Remember, a trucking company cannot fire, demote, or discriminate against you in any way for standing up against them.

The laws are enforced to reduce truck accident numbers in the future. Following are some of the laws that every truck driver should know:

  • Hours of Service
  • Right to Refuse Driving
  • Right to File a Complaint

Hours of service

Truck drivers have many strict laws in the US. Driving a truck is not the same as driving a car. A truck driver is not allowed to drive more than 11 hours in a day. After 11 hours of driving, the driver must take a rest for 8 hours. This rest resets the timer and allows the driver to drive for another 11 hours. The driver should take a 30 min break in the first 8 hours of driving.

However, the driver is allowed to work for 14 hours a day. The 14 hours include 11 hours of driving also. The waiting period while loading the cargo is usually considered 2 hours. The rest of the time is the break time for the driver. This waiting period is also considered work time, even though the driver is not actively working.

There is one more rule regarding hours of service. A driver is not allowed to drive more than 60 hours on seven consecutive days. After driving for 60 hours, the driver must take a rest for 34 hours. Only after taking a rest for 34 hours the driver can continue.

These hours of service rules prevent the driver from overworking. The driver will be well rested, which reduces the risks of accidents.

Right to refuse to drive

The driver can refuse to drive a truck if they have a valid reason. The trucking company cannot force the driver to work. There are various situations where a driver can refuse to work. They are:

  1. Poor Condition of the Truck
  2. Hazardous Cargo
  3. Bad Weather
  4. Poor Condition of the Truck

Defective truck parts are a major reason for truck accidents. In fact, faulty tires are the reason for 30% of truck accidents. The trucking company must ensure that the truck is up to the safety standards. If the vehicle is not in good condition, the driver can refuse to drive it.

Hazardous cargo

It is not unusual to ship hazardous cargo in trucks. The hazardous cargo should be loaded safely. The driver must not be exposed to the chemicals. If the driver has proof that they are exposed to chemicals, they can refuse to drive.

Bad weather

Even driving a car in bad weather can be of high risk. A truck is near impossible to drive in poor weather conditions. Even in usual weather, the truck will travel a distance when braked. In rainy weather, braking can make the truck to swerve off the road. So, in those conditions, the driver can refuse to work.

Right to file a complaint

The trucking company will try to force the driver to increase their profit. As said, the drivers are scapegoats for the trucking companies. If you are being forced to overwork, you can file a complaint against the company. Remember, the company cannot fire you for filing a complaint against them.

If you have worked with a trucking company, you might know they won’t go down easily. Hire a lawyer who can help you to win the case. When hiring a lawyer, ensure they are in the same locality as the trucking company. Because the trucking laws in Alabama will be different from trucking laws in Illinois. If the trucking company’s home office is in Birmingham, hire Birmingham truck accident lawyers to help you.

Final thoughts

The truck driver job is quite hard. It is a tiring job by default. In that, the trucking is taking advantage of the drivers. You don’t have to be another victim of overworking. Stop the chain, and start fighting against the corporate. Know your legal rights to avoid overworking. Hope this blog helped you to know about truck drivers' laws. Good luck!

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on the legal system?

Tags: Logistics, Truck Driving, Haulage, Legal , Guest Post

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