My friends at the Truck Safety Coalition are reporting a victory for truck safety advocates in yesterday’s deal between the House and Senate for transportation reauthorization. The Senate bill, called MAP-21, included a number of truck safety initiatives, and those have survived in the final deal. A number of the new provisions will have implications for truck driver whistleblowers. Most famously, the bill requires that commercial trucks start carrying Electronic On-board Recorders (EOBRs). Employer and other economic pressures to cheat on the log books should become a thing of the past as each trucker’s actual hours of driving will be recorded automatically with GPS devices. One can imagine ways in which cheating might still occur, but with the higher standards, safety whistleblowers should have more evidence on their side. Disputes over hours of operation have been a bane for truck drivers for too long. Tired drivers have killed too many. Thankfully, today is a day on which safety has prevailed.
The bill also increases the standards for truck driver medical qualifications, training and drug and alcohol testing. I am pleased with the heightened standards for broker financial responsibility and insurance. Hopefully, we will not see so many shady operators who fold up shop at any sign of trouble and then reopen under a new name. This should make it easier for whistleblowers to collect when they win their cases. Trucker drivers should know that the time limit to file a whistleblower retaliation complaint under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) is 180 days from the date of each adverse action. The Truck Safety Coalition’s announcement is in the continuation of this blog post.