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Here’s Why We Don’t Have More Whistleblowers in Trucking

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An article at Knox News talks about a truck driver who recently won a $30k whistleblower settlement against a trucking company. Yay!

Unfortunately, it took three years for this to happen.

Based on my experience, it's not the rich and famous out on the road driving trucks — the industry is driven (pun intended) by the poor and unknown (of which I'm a prime example). As the saying goes, "Justice delayed is justice denied". When it's delayed for so long, the consequences for the driver can be completely untenable.

Filing any kind of legal action against your employer is also pretty much the kiss of death for your future employment prospects in trucking, whether it's legal or not.

Under the law, the driver of a CMV is "the captain of the ship". In practice, that's actually pretty far from the truth. Really, really far. Like Timbuktu or Zanzibar far. Maybe even further than that.

For example, a driver was placed out of service for a logbook violation on a friday afternoon. His boss called him and told him to go make the delivery anyway because the customer needed the load, then go back and finish his out of service time. Clearly, a violation of a whole bunch of regulations. What did the driver do? He did what he was told. I asked him why he didn't just tell the boss to stuff it? His reply was, that "his rent was due".

Many drivers live a more or less hand-to-mouth existence. The driver above could have blown a whistle (or even a calliope's worth). The boss would have likely even faced some serious jail time for his actions. The trouble is, the driver (and his family) would have been homeless and starving *long* before any kind of settlement or judgement would have worked it's way through the system, so it's no great surprise that he did what he did.

As for the driver in the article, $30k isn't much for what he likely had to endure over that three year period.

The relatively small settlement amount also doesn't do much to discourage companies from taking the same kinds of action with other drivers. 30 grand is pretty much chump change for even a small to moderate sized trucking company. If they'd gotten whacked for a million or two or ten, you can bet that every other trucking company in the country would sit up and take notice, and decide that it would be much cheaper to fix the equipment, than to pay a judgement. You'd also find more drivers willing to undergo the process if it would be worth it in the end.

So, what we need is an overhaul of the whole whistleblower system, that will provide better protection for those blowing the whistle, an expedited process, and penalties with some serious teeth to discourage such things in the first place.

td