Truck drivers are more important than ever today. But have you taken a moment to think about your rights as a driver? If you’re busy working as one of the 3.5 million drivers in the United States, you know very well the important role you play in the nation’s economy and supply chain. While it’s understandable to be more focused on your daily tasks as a driver, it’s just as important to ensure your rights are upheld. Unfortunately, this is often not the case – usually because many drivers are unaware of their rights. This opens the door for drivers to be exploited by companies trying to squeeze more out of drivers than they’re actually able to do.
What we do at Pay4Freight is provide the support needed to allow drivers to literally and figuratively take destiny into their own hands by making the shift to becoming owner-operators. If you’re interested in exploring the many possibilities that go along with gaining more control over your career, check out our guide to starting your own trucking company.
However, if you’re currently working as a driver for a trucking company, take a moment to learn more about the rights you have as a driver. Feel free to share what’s presented below with other drivers you know so they too can become more informed. Knowing your rights as a driver ultimately helps you avoid being taken advantage of as you do what you love doing.
Truck drivers are like any other employees in that they have a right to receive unemployment benefits if they qualify based on state guidelines. What sometimes happens, though, is trucking companies deny such benefits. Drivers often assume they have no recourse – or that it’s too much hassle to argue about the denial. The truth is it’s up to the state to determine eligibility for unemployment benefits, not a trucking company.
Truck drivers typically come home every 2-3 weeks, although arrangements with hometime can vary with each company and the circumstances involved. But as a driver, you have the right to make reasonable hometime requests. This can be done one of two ways:
What a trucking company can’t do is unfairly deny your hometime request or claim it was never received or approved. Keep any documentation or verifications you may receive that indicate your employer did get your hometime request – including anything showing it was approved. This makes it easier to discuss any discrepancies or unfair practices.
As a driver, you also have a right to do your job in a way that’s safe and healthy for you. Dispatcher harassment comes in many forms in the trucking industry, but it usually involves issues with break and rest periods in an effort to squeeze more deliveries and pick-ups into each day. However, driving when sleep-deprived isn’t good for you or anyone else on the road.
Any violations, especially ones involving rest and break periods, should be reported. Violations can be reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In some instances, you may also need to contact a labor attorney.
Trucking companies often dock drivers if they curb a trailer. This can also happen if a tire is blown during time on the clock and on the road. Some drivers also have issues with cash advances on ComData cards. With regards to what can and can’t be docked, regulations and laws vary by state. In Indiana, for instance, cash advances and pay docking are legally permitted. However, this isn’t the case in New York. Do some research to find out what applies to your company. But be sure to find out where your company’s corporate office is located. In some cases, it may be in a different state than the one they use for their home base. Typically, the laws of the state where the corporate office is located apply.
All trucking companies and employers have a right to maintain safety for their drivers and the vehicles they operate. Safety guidelines that apply to the trucking industry include ones involving:
If there are any safety violations you notice, contact the Department of Transportation (DOT). Safety regulations specific to the trucking industry are enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If you were injured while on the job as a driver, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. Your employer should make workers’ comp procedures known. At the very least, you should be able to file a reasonable claim should an injury occur.
All drivers face an assortment of elements when driving, from rain, hail, and strong winds to snow and ice. While there are often ways to safely drive when the weather isn’t all that great, drivers do have the right to refuse to drive when it’s simply not safe to do so. The United States Code of Federal Regulations also allows drivers to refuse to drive when conditions are too hazardous without being penalized for doing so.
If you believe any of your rights as a truck driver have been violated, let the company you work for know this is the case. Remain calm as you discuss the right or rights you believe weren’t upheld as you performed your duties. Also, the more specific you are with what the violation was, the more likely it is you’ll be able to find a mutually acceptable resolution.
One other option to consider, as we mentioned early on, is to become an owner-operator if you’re not already working as one now. Pay4Freight has the resources you need to take this step. And if you’re already an owner-operator, why not pass this information along to anyone you know currently working for a trucking company? They, too, may decide to make the switch to taking more control over their careers and futures.
Combine the tips we just discussed with a great fuel card. We also invite you to sign up for our invoice factoring service (we are the only 4.9 stars Google-rated freight factoring company Pay4Freight Google review); or you can take advantage of our 7% better together factoring-dispatch deal.