October 30, 2014

Court validates concern over bus-driver harassment

WASHINGTON – When UTU Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant was appointed to a 20-member congressionally created Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee earlier this summer, he was no shrinking violet.

Studivant had serious concerns about a proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that would require certain motor carriers, including interstate bus operators, to implement use of electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) to monitor driver behavior as a safety tool. Supporters of the rule reasoned that EOBRs would help assure drivers don’t exceed hours-of-service limitations.

Studivant, however, was concerned that the requirement – notwithstanding its good intentions — did not include sufficient safeguards to protect drivers from being harassed by employers to stay behind the wheel to maximize driving time under hours-of-service limitations even when a driver felt fatigued.

But the rule already had been approved by the agency prior to Studivant’s appointment to the advisory committee, and it was scheduled to go into effect in June 2012.

Last week, Studivant’s position was validated by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the FMCSA “needs to consider what types of harassment already exist, how frequently and to what extent harassment happens, and how an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier will guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment.”

When the FMCSA revisits the rule, Studivant will be on hand to provide recommendations from a driver’s perspective.

“It is comforting that these concerns were recognized by the appeals court. I expect the FMCSA to revise the rule to include better driver protection,” Studivant said.