Thursday, August 13, 2020
By Eric Skiba
In 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted its Coercion Rule
, giving the agency more authority to hold freight brokers, shippers and receivers accountable for forcing drivers to violate FMCSA regulations.
Specifically, the Coercion Rule prohibits receivers, shippers, motor carriers and transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate in ways that violate certain FMCSA regulations. This includes hours-of-service limits, associated drug and alcohol testing rules, and their commercial driver's license (CDL) regulations, among others. The Coercion Rule allows drivers to report incidents of coercion to FMCSA. In return, FMCSA can issue penalties
against any party who coerces a driver.
At Nationwide Logistics, our independent contractors arrange for the movement of goods. The underlying motor carrier has the authority to manage how those goods are moved safely. Often, a carrier can be held up at the shipper for extended loading times. When that happens, they deserve to be compensated for their time by the shipper or customer.
The big question is, how do you position everyone for success, avoid FMCSA penalties and unhappy drivers and customers? We suggest that a little empathy and a healthy dose of communication can go a long way.
1. Understand your drivers’ limits
Drivers are under a mandate for federal hours of service. They can only drive a truck for a certain number of hours per day. Make sure you are familiar with the FMCSA hours of service limitations
and then talk to your drivers so you both are aligned.
2. Don’t be a pushy agent
Besides the obvious danger of pushing drivers to operate outside of their hours of service limitations — the liability is dangerous for brokers’ business, too. At Nationwide Logistics, we strictly prohibit this behavior. If you force a driver to operate outside the federal guidelines, you’re acting carelessly. There are brokerages that have paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits over this.
3. Set realistic expectations
Look for opportunities to build trust with your customers. If you convey realistic delivery times to the customer from the start, you’ll avoid setting unreasonable expectations. This positions you and the driver for success, and lets your customer know that they can rely on you for future runs.
4. Communicate, and then communicate some more
The main cause of strain between truckers and freight brokers? Lack of communication. When brokers work to communicate accurate information to their carriers, they help the carriers take more responsibility for their loads. This results in happy customers.
In our experience, we’ve seen that the best way to avoid violating the FMCSA Coercion Rule is to establish a solid relationship with your drivers. We’ll never stop advocating for that. Because when you’re both looking out for each other’s best interest, you’re less likely to put each other in a compromised position, and that includes violating any FMCSA regulations.
To find out more about how Nationwide Logistics is committed to making sure agents get support from a real person, with real experience, who is working to help them succeed, contact me at email@example.com.
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