When confronted with an unsafe vehicle that is not fit for the job, operators may be worried that a refusal to perform the jobs duties under the conditions will threaten their employment. Unfortunately, many drivers consider taking the risk of operating the vehicle anyway for fear of losing their job. At Platinum Drivers, we want people to know that according to the law, it is okay to refuse to drive as long as the concerns are reasonable.
The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) enforces the protection of a driver’s rights when faced with operating an unsafe vehicle. It is now illegal for any disciplinary action on the part of an employer in cases where their employee chooses not to operate a vehicle deemed unsafe. It also allows the employee to attempt to correct the problem and make the vehicle safety compliant without fear of losing their job.
If you are faced with this challenge, two very important conditions must be met for STAA to provide any legal protection from losing your job. First, you must refuse based specifically on a “reasonable apprehension” that operating the vehicle would result in a real safety hazard to you or anyone else. Second, the driver must have made a request that their employer correct whatever problem they believe exists. If the request has not been made, then it could be a violation of STAA, and the driver may be out of luck.
Even if further investigation shows that the vehicle was safe all along, as long as there was deemed to be a reasonable concern that it could have been unsafe, your refusal is legitimate and will be upheld by STAA.
If you feel that you’ve been instructed to drive a truck that you believe to be unsafe, the first thing you should do is voice your concerns with the company, giving a detailed explanation of what you think is wrong along with the danger it poses. Also, obtain a secondary witness and properly document the issue in writing and with photos.
While it may seem like the Surface Transportation Assistance Act is a point of conflict between drivers and their employers, this is actually not the case. The guidelines allow for proper methods of communication between the two parties that keep things operating safely and smoothly. Most companies are happy to fix any problem that legitimately threatens their drivers and other people on the road.
So if you feel like there’s a problem with your vehicle, speak up! Keep visiting Platinum Drivers for more information on truck driving and CDL driver staffing and placement services.