Is a Ride-Along Wrong? The Important Rules to Know About Truck Passengers
Life on the road can get lonely for truck drivers, so if you happen to be one, it might seem like a good idea to ask a friend or family member to join you in the cab. But unfortunately, that may not be possible, depending on your company’s policy. Some businesses ban truck passengers outright because they create liability risks. And according to Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, they also require specific paperwork.
Here’s what you need to know before carrying a passenger.
FMCSA has developed several regulations designed to increase safety in commercial vehicles. These rules include section 392.60, which discusses the transportation of unauthorized passengers.
According to regulations, commercial drivers must have written authorization from their motor carriers to drive passengers unless allowed otherwise (such as in the case of public buses). This paperwork should include the passenger’s name, the trip’s starting and ending locations, and the authorized travel dates. And this rule applies to all trips—not just long hauls. So, you can’t give your child a lift to school in your rig without written authorization.
Of course, the FMCSA does allow for a few exceptions to this rule. You may carry a passenger when…
- The motor carrier assigns someone to the vehicle, whether driving or not.
- Someone needs emergency assistance.
- You require an attendant to care for an authorized load of livestock.
The Company’s Decision
FMCSA regulations don’t outright ban passengers from commercial vehicles. Instead, they just highlight the risks.
So, companies are left to make the final decision about riders. And it can be a tough one. On the one hand, employees might appreciate the ability to carry riders and consider that a perk of the job. Yet, on the other, every truck passenger creates a litigation risk if an accident occurs. The only way to eliminate liability risks completely is to develop a no-passenger policy.
Some companies may compromise by allowing passengers on a case-by-case basis. Others may opt to reward their very best drivers with the ability to carry riders. These employees should maintain clean driving records and comply with all safety regulations to create the least risk.
No matter how your company decides to regulate truck passengers, your policy needs to follow FMCSA rules. And you should also clearly communicate the rules to your drivers.
For more information about vehicle regulations, visit the FMCSA website.
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