Truck Driver Legal Rights
Truck Drivers: Know Your Rights
Truck driving is an active business, at times requiring strenuous schedules to get the work done. What you may not be aware of is that some of these schedules may not be strictly 100% legal. Truck involved accidents can lead to major damage and severe injuries. Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes for such accidents. There are laws that protect truck drivers from working in conditions that result in fatigue and a distracted mind. Unfortunately, these laws are not always well known. As such, many truck drivers are forced to deal with the unreasonable demands on their employers. Knowing about truck driver legal rights can help prevent finding yourself in situations, which can have disastrous results:
By law, truck drivers are required to log the number of hours they work their vehicle daily. The law also requires mandatory breaks at certain intervals in between operation of the truck. This ensures that the drivers receive adequate rest. Employer do not have the right to insist on schedule that violate the number of daily hours allowed or the mandatory rest periods – to do so would be considered a violation of transport laws and may lead to prosecution.
The Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
Despite of what the law says, some drivers may justifiable fear that if their refuse the schedules set by their employers then their employment will be terminated. The law however provides for this as well. According to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, employees are protected from termination, docking of pay, disciplinary punishment or discrimination, if their employers request something of them that is a violation of a regulation, of the law. The Act also provides protection for employees who refuse to operate a truck because they have reasonable fears of serious injury to themselves or the public, due to the condition of the vehicle.
A driver cannot be forced to operate an improperly maintained vehicle. Companies dealing in the operation of large trucks are required to maintain their trucks in proper and smooth operating order. Failure to do so may result in fines and license suspension. Random inspections of the vehicles may be carried out by the authorities to ensure that all vehicles adhere to the maintenance standards.
At times, truck drivers are terminated from employment for refusing to adhere to the unreasonable demands on their employer or some other unfair reason. However, as mentioned above, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act protects truck drivers from this. If a driver is a victim of being unfairly discharged from employment, he or she is not left without recourse. The truck driver has the right to file a formal complaint with the Secretary of Labor (not later than 180 days from the discharge), which will result in an investigation. If the allegations are proven to be correct, further action will be taken against the employer.
There are also steps that can be taken by truck drivers to help themselves deal with exhaustion and burnout. Here are a few: (1) take frequent breaks to recharge the body; (2) drink lots of water to stave off dehydration and stay alert; (3) don’t attempt to falsify records so you can work more hours – this will backfire in the long run; (4) report any violations to the Department of Labor – the laws mentioned above will provide the driver with protection against termination or disciplinary actions for doing so. Additionally, reporting such incidences might result in saving someone’s life in the future.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, contact a personal injury attorney to help you. To schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer experienced in truck driver legal rights, contact the Law Offices Of Eslamboly Hakim in Los Angeles County. Call 800-LAW-TALK (529-8255) or contact us online.
Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.