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Truck Drivers Constant Battle for Safe Operation

Professional truck drivers have become accustomed to being the target of continual federal regulations relating to the safe operation of a commercial motor vehicle. As trucking safety groups join forces with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) regulations continue to be compounded on top of regulations to ensure truck drivers perform their duties safely. What these groups are largely missing is the fact that the majority of truck drivers take road safety very seriously and do their best to operate within the guidelines of the FMCSA.

After a ten month break from writing for the Examiner, the most recent incident involving trucking safety has brought me back to the "paper and pen." The failure by safety groups and regulatory agencies to acknowledge that a much larger and menacing problem exists within the realms of road safety must finally be understood. It relates to the constant battle which takes place between truck drivers and their own motor carrier dispatchers.

Professional truck driver, Abe Attallah is the most recent driver who found himself in such a situation as he informed his dispatch with K&B Transportation that he was too tired to continue driving. With the incident caught on video, this all-too-common experience for drivers went viral across trucking social media sites. The video above is a must-see for those who fail to understand that this type of driver abuse is common-place within the industry.

The driver was within his full rights under FMCSA regulations to stop driving due to driver fatigue. Eventually, Mr. Attallah was given that right by the dispatcher, but only after being verbally abused and threatened by a final dispatcher who should be terminated from his position. The dispatcher even brought the driver's wife and family into the conversation, mentioning to the driver not to be upset when he receives a "$400.00 paycheck" for the week.

FMCSA Regulation § 392.3 clearly states:

“No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.”

Once the driver informs the dispatcher that he or she is too tired to continue driving, it should be the end of the conversation. Although K&B Transportation happened to be the one motor carrier that "got caught" in this abuse of truck drivers, it is a continual battle within the industry, driver vs. dispatcher, which has been going on for years.

It is not a matter of "manning-up" or that it's "just trucking", but a direct decision by the driver to operate within the required FMCSA regulations and to take road safety seriously and with professionalism. For those drivers who pretend to be safety advocates but are no more than puppets for the unsafe carriers, they too add to the problem. However, when drivers work to abide by the regulations and operate within safety for themselves and the general public, they should not have to be faced with threats and abuse by their own employer.

The FMCSA, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and these uniformed "Safety Groups" should now accept the fact that drivers are targeted with abuse, fear and intimidation on a regular basis. Professional truck drivers have begun to share their own experiences through their FaceBook page, as represented by the following post:

  • "This has happened to (my husband) a few times. He used to push himself harder and longer because dispatch or whoever from the company would force him to keep going. He has even been threatened with losing his job. One night I was with him on the road and we were pushing and pushing to get this load delivered. We didn't get to eat much except a couple sandwiches. We were lucky we could stop to go to the bathroom. We almost went off the road. (He) realized then what was more important. He hasn't done it since! He tells them now if you want your load and your truck then come get it because NO load is more important then my life or my wife's life. There are companies that force drivers to drive without sleep, or food, or even time to stop and shower. Being forced to drive in bad weather or icy road conditions also. This problem needs to be discussed and action needs to be taken against all companies. It's not just the big companies that do this, the smaller companies do it too and its worse sometimes. (He) has even been penalized with a late fee because we stopped to nap and didn't get to deliver on time, but the load got there (two hours late) but he got it there. The abuse is unbelievable! Anyone who doesn't drive has no idea what goes on in the truck or what the drivers go through. It is physically and mentally tiring and it is abuse to the drivers. Plan and simple abuse... abuse of authority also."

As this most recent battle between truck driver and dispatcher took place and due to the overwhelming response via trucking social media outlets, officials of K&B Transportation apologized to the driver and promised such responses from dispatchers would cease to take place. One can only assume it is due to the fact that this one carrier simply "got caught."

The majority of professional truck drivers do their best to operate within the safety guidelines of the FMCSA regulations. They too, want to make it home safely to their families while performing vital commerce to the Nation. The next time FMCSA listens to industry recommendations by safety groups, hopefully they will finally accept the fact that drivers face their own battles when it comes to adhering to safety regulations.

The evidence is in the video.