Trucking firms in the L.A. area threatened financial losses if drivers didn’t break safety rules says Philadelphia truck accident lawyer Rand Spear.
An exhausted truck driver is a dangerous truck driver. Anyone driving without enough rest will be easily distracted, likely to become angry and may fall asleep behind the wheel. An investigation by USA Today found that many truck drivers are on the road much longer than allowed by federal regulations in order to make payments on “lease to own” contracts with trucking companies. These arrangements threaten the lives of the drivers and others on the road says Philadelphia truck accident lawyer Rand Spear.
The newspaper focused on trucking companies serving the ports in and around Los Angeles and found many took advantage of truck drivers, many of whom don’t speak English, who want to own their own truck. Many drivers, who the companies considered independent contractors – not employees, are virtually held financial hostages by these contracts. In order to keep up the payments drivers often violated federal rules meant to keep drivers rested and alert which state they can drive up to 11 hours after having ten hours off.
The newspaper obtained copies of contracts, reviewed evidence submitted as part of California wage claims and interviewed drivers. They found that,
- One driver often drove more than 16 hours straight each day, rarely saw his family, slept in his truck and after paying for the truck earned as little as 67 cents a week. After the truck he leased broke down and he couldn’t afford repairs, the driver was fired, the truck was seized and the $78,000 paid towards owning the truck was lost.
- Trucking companies compel drivers to work up to 20 hours a day by threatening to take their trucks and keep the money they paid toward buying them. Management created fear in drivers by firing or suspending them without pay or assigning them the poorest paying routes.
- To keep drivers working a few companies physically prevented them from going home. One driver testified that more than once he came back after a full day’s work and found the gate of the parking lot locked and a manager ordered drivers back to work.
- Drivers at several companies claim they had no choice but to break federal safety laws limiting their time on the road. Drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation testified that their managers dispatched truckers up to 20 hours a day and wouldn’t pay them unless they falsified reports tracking driving hours. Hundreds of these port truckers have been involved in accidents from 2013 to 2015, causing more than 20 fatalities.
- Trucking companies charged drivers for lease payments and expenses such as insurance and fuel. Some companies billed truckers parking fees to use the company lot and one company, Fargo Trucking, charged $2 each week for toilet paper and other supplies.
Though truck drivers need to comply with applicable rules and drive safely, there are many trucking companies willing to exploit people desperate to work and will break the law in order to make a profit. This situation is an accident waiting to happen, one that some trucking companies see as the cost of doing business.
Have you been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck? If so, don’t wait to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your case. Protect your rights by contacting us or by calling New Jersey and Philadelphia truck accident lawyer Rand Spear now at 877-GET-RAND.