Interstate trucking is not covered under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs many other employment situations. Consequently, trucking companies are not required to pay drivers overtime and often demand that a driver work 60 or more hours per week. Also, most interstate drivers are paid by the load or mile, not the hour. That means truckers are not paid for waiting time or time spent loading and unloading. So unless there is a union contract establishing a flat salary per work- week, a truck driver must work fast and long to be profitable.
Because of the stressful nature of interstate trucking, car accidents are a regrettable certainty. To compound matters even worse, often times the true victims in such cases are those riding in the passenger car. Both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are commonplace in the motor carriage industry.
To protect both truck drivers and those in passenger cars the Federal government initiated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). The FMCSR remains the sole safety standard by which professional truck drivers and motor carriers are required to follow in the operation of commercial motor vehicles.
The purpose of the FMCSR are to help reduce or prevent truck and bus accidents, fatalities and injuries by requiring drivers to have a single commercial motor vehicle driver’s license and by disqualifying drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles in an unsafe manner. Some of the more prominent regulations of the FMCSR govern:
- Minimum Uniform Commercial Driver’s License requirements: drug testing; required knowledge and skills; federal disqualification; employer responsibilities; requirements to obtain driver’s license
- Minimum Levels of Insurance Coverage: $500,000 per carrier operating in interstate commerce; and, $1,000,000 per carrier if carrier transports hazardous cargo in interstate commerce
- Driver’s hours of operation (including hours on-duty, off-duty, and in sleeper berth)
- Physical qualifications of drivers
Most cases concerning interstate motor carriers involve a personal injury or wrongful death. If either occur, it would be wise to consult with an attorney specializing in motor carrier cases to protect your interests and offer practical advice for dealing with the situation.
If you are employed as a truck driver or other motor carrier, and have a workplace dispute or there is employment discrimination, you should also speak to an employment lawyer to learn about your legal options.