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No Truckers Left to Keep on Trucking

The current long-haul trucking industry is facing a severe crisis as an alarming number of long-haul truckers have grown tired of the low pay and poor working conditions. This is due to the fact that the long-haul truckers are not subject to normal labor laws. Typically, employees have laws and regulates from the Department of Labor to protect their rights, such as pay, time-off, sick days, vacation, working condition, and many more. However, long-haul truckers are regulated by the Department of Transportation, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

One would assume that regardless of which federal department regulates long-haul truckers, they would be aptly considered for in the eyes of the law. But that could not be further from the truth. Unlike the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation's main focus is on keeping roads safe. This leads to activity by employers so egregious that if it were in a normal 9-5 workplace, there could easily be strikes. It is not uncommon to see long-haul truckers take 14-hour days without weekends, sick pay, or holiday pay. Additionally, there have actions that one would expect from George Orwell's 1984 novel, where employers have inserted automatic brakes if the truckers exceed a certain speed or even installed two-way cameras while a trucker is driving.

Some veteran long-haul truckers have retired prematurely due to the inhumane and demeaning work conditions required by the job. Due to the retirements, employers are faced to hire 18-21 year olds, who are vastly inexperienced and statistically have higher accident rates. So instead of advocating for laws that promote road safety, the Department of Transportation's ineffectiveness has led to inexperienced truckers driving tons and tons of equipment on the freeways.

There have been a few attempts by Congress to protect long-haul truckers, but the effect is often feeble since it comes as a piecemeal. Employers find ways around the law or it just is not effective. The primary and most logical way to protect the rights of long-haul truckers is to extend the Department of Labor's authority over long-haul truckers. The protections would finally grant the rights long-haul truckers are looking for. It would be a long process, but if done properly, it would have lasting, positive impact.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584.

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    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

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