Sexual Harassment in Trucking: How FMCSA and State SDLAs Address It

Sexual assaults have occurred at truck stops, fueling stations, and in connection with CMV driver training.

Did you know CDL holders can face serious consequences if they use a CMV when committing felony sexual assault?

Sexual assault is a serious matter that have occurred at truck stops, fueling stations, and in connection with CMV driver training.

Truck drivers whose personal safety is at risk cannot devote their complete attention to the safe operation of a CMV and the performance of other safety sensitive functions.

This is why it is a critical component of FMCSA’s mission which they stressed on Dec 7 Notice of Enforcement Policy.

Let’s take a closer look.

Is sexual assault or harassment prevalent in the trucking industry?

In 2021, the organization Women In Trucking (WIT) initiated a survey which collected the responses of 437 professional drivers.

The survey found that 18 percent of respondents felt trucking was not a safe industry for women.

One of the concerns expressed by drivers was the training situation when it involves opposite gender trainers. More than half felt that a same gender training policy would encourage more women to pursue a career as a driver.

The survey also found that 87 percent of respondents feel truck stops are unsafe for women, while another 85.5 percent say rest areas are unsafe.

According to the WIT Driver Safety and Harassment research project, a significant number of respondents (42.5 percent) say they are aware of a driver who has experienced harassment or actual assault as a result of sharing a cab with an opposite gender trainer. Approximately 39 percent say their company offers a same-gender training program.

FMCSA’s Notice of Enforcement Policy Stresses States Role

The purpose FMCSA’s latest Notice of Enforcement Policy is to increase awareness of sexual assault against CMV drivers and to emphasize that Federal law requires that persons who are convicted of using a CMV to commit a felony must be disqualified from operating a CMV requiring a CDL or commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

This is why FMCSA stressed that State courts and State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) play a key role in addressing this problem.

The Notice clarifies that when State courts forward convictions based on the use of a CMV in the commission of felony sexual assault, the SDLA must disqualify the driver for the time periods set forth in 49 CFR 383.51(b), Table 1, item (6).

Currently, 49 CFR 383.51 mandates:

  • First conviction result in a one-year disqualification – or a three-year disqualification if the driver is transporting hazardous materials.
  • Second felony conviction would result in a lifetime disqualification.

CDL holders with a lifetime suspension can be approved for reinstatement following 10 years if they have “voluntarily entered and successfully completed an appropriate rehabilitation program approved by the State.”

However, felony convictions for crimes related to controlled substances or human trafficking result in lifetime disqualification without the possibility of reinstatement.

FMCSA is aware that State criminal codes use varying terms to describe sexual assault, including rape.

As used in this Notice, the term “sexual assault” means any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.

“Using a CMV” in the commission of the assault could, for example, include:

  • felony sexual assault occurring in or upon a CMV or towed unit; or
  • use of a CMV to transport a victim to a site where felony sexual assault is committed;  or
  • use of a CMV to conceal a felony sexual assault – e.g., the CMV serves as a shield from public view while the assault is taking place.

There may be other circumstances in which a CMV is used in the commission of felony sexual assault, as determined by State prosecutors based on the facts of the case and applicable State law.

FMCSA urges State courts to be diligent in forwarding these convictions to the SDLA so the perpetrator will be disqualified from operating a CMV in accordance with 49 CFR 383.51(b) and corresponding State requirements.

This is a great first step, but the biggest challenge is the communication between the courts and SDLA’s.

DOT Compliance Programs (PSM)

At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM),a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Questions about DOT Compliance, Licensing, Audits, Programs, etc.?

Our DOT Specialists are here to help!

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