At Miller Cohen, we understand that truck driving can be a difficult and dangerous job. That is why it is important to be sure you’re protected and your employer is properly following the safeguards created to keep the roads safe.
The trucking industry is a heavily regulated industry which is why you should contact the attorneys at Miller Cohen if you feel you have terminated or retaliated against for refusing to drive a truck in violation of any regulation, in violation of mandatory rest periods or in unsafe driving conditions.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
The FMCSA states that drivers shall not be required or allowed to drive a vehicle carrying personal property for more than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Regardless of how many hours drivers took off during the course of their shift, they must still end their workday at the end of the 14th hour since they came on duty.
The FMCSA has regulations for the number of hours drivers are permitted to work in a week. If the company for which a driver works does not operate every day of the week, then the driver cannot work more than 60 hours in any period of seven consecutive days. If the company for which a driver works does operate every day of the week, then the driver cannot work more than 70 hours in any period of 8 straight days.
Consecutive seven- or eight-day periods end with the beginning of a period of at least 34 hours of off-duty time for the driver.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)
The FMCSR, 49 C.F.R. §392.14, provides certain standards for a truck driver from driving in unsafe conditions stating:
Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.
Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA)
The STAA prevents an employer from retaliating against a driver or employee who reports or refuses to drive a truck in violation of a safety regulation or if an employee has a “reasonable apprehension of serious injury” to the driver or to the public because of the truck’s condition.
The STAA also protects employees who:
Participate in safety related proceedings
Allege they have been exposed to significant hazards.
Refuse to speed to complete a dispatch
Refuse to operate a commercial motor vehicle while ill, fatigued or otherwise impaired (You must have a valid reason for the condition and present it to your employer)
Refuse to violate State laws covering overweight vehicles, speeding, over-length or over-height vehicles; including local ordinances involving routing or special height and width requirements.
When Does the STAA Apply?
In order to be protected under the STAA, you must be in the private sector and a driver of, mechanic responsible for the maintenance and inspection of, freight handler or an individual (not employer) who directly affects commercial motor vehicle safety, of a commercial motor vehicle:
With a gross weight rating of at least 10,001 pounds; or
That is designed or used to transport passengers for compensation (excluding vehicles providing taxi cab services and having a capacity of not more than 6 passengers and not operated on a regular route or between specified places) or;
That is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
That is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under Section 5103 of this title and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation under Section 5103.