Previous piece in this feature package: Cracks in the system: Blowing the whistle on coercion
Coercion complaints filed with FMCSA have gone up every year since the rule prohibiting coercion took effect in January 2016, more than doubling by the third year. That’s in spite of another rule taking effect in that third year, 2018, that seemingly could have put the brakes on coercion and greatly reduced driver complaints about it. 2018 was the first full year where most of the industry operated under the ELD mandate that went into effect Dec. 18, 2017.
The new technology, in some watchers’ views, stood to eliminate traditional opportunities to cheat on logs by doctoring paper log books, whether coerced by a dispatcher or initiated by a driver eager for more miles and pay. Yet as the chart shows, complaints rose considerably in 2018 and are on track to top 1,000 in 2019.
One explanation for the trend could be growing driver awareness and use of the coercion rule. The increase in complaints from 2016 to 2017, with little impact from the ELD mandate, would support that rationale.
Another explanation, at least for 2018 and 2019, could be that the new logging rigor imposed by ELD use prompted many carriers to coerce hours of service cheating in new ways, such as turning off the ELD or improper logging of on-duty driving as personal conveyance, with more risk involved for the operator given the edit trailer the devices leave.
FMCSA declined to speculate on causes for the steady, sizeable increases in coercion complaints.
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