FMCSA Report Offers Findings to Combat Harassment, Assaults Against Truck Drivers

Department of Transportation headquarters The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hired Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio, to conduct the study. (Department of Transportation)

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Harassment and assaults against truck drivers are a key concern, particularly among women and minority male drivers, according to a new study and survey commissioned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“Harassment is more likely to happen at truck stops, places where truck drivers pick up or deliver cargo, and fueling stations,” concluded the two-year study by Battelle Memorial Institute, a private nonprofit applied science and technology development company in Columbus, Ohio.

FMCSA’s Office of Analysis, Research, and Technology contracted the “Crime Prevention for Truckers Study” for about five years to better understand the nature and prevalence of harassment and assaults against truckers, and to be useful for motor carriers, truck stop operators, law enforcement personnel and others in their efforts to address the problem. The study also included a survey of the literature.



Some of the study’s conclusions — also based in part on the survey of female, minority and other drivers — included:

  • Threats of harm and actual physical harm are the most common types of crimes committed against women and minority truckers, but they are not of the same nature. Factors contributing to minorities facing crimes include pre-existing prejudice and racism, motor carrier companies’ supply chains, and the vulnerability surrounding minorities who cannot speak English.
  • The 653 drivers surveyed said crimes are more likely to happen in urban areas compared with rural areas, and that harassment against female truck drivers is more likely to happen from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Truckers surveyed suggested that preventing future harassment against truckers could be improved by enhancing safety at existing facilities, providing additional parking facilities, improving communication within the industry, providing personal safety training to drivers and developing educational material to increase awareness.
  • Drivers said safety also could be enhanced at existing trucking facilities by providing adequate lighting and security features to existing truck parking lots, fueling stations, truck stops, and docking areas of shippers and receivers. Restrooms should be located closer to parking entrances, and there also should be a presence of safety patrol and law enforcement, according to the survey.
  • Some drivers even suggested they would feel safer if they were permitted to carry firearms. However, the policies of many trucking companies, shippers, and receivers do not allow truckers to carry firearms in their trucks. In addition, state laws on carrying firearms vary significantly, and the issue is beyond the purview of FMCSA’s authority.
  • Female truck drivers were found to be two to four times more likely to report being touched without permission compared with nonminority men, while minority women were up to nine times more likely to report being physically harmed compared with nonminority men. Nonminority women are two to six times more likely than nonminority men to be touched without permission.

The driver survey showed that the individuals committing the harassment are more likely to be other truck drivers whom the victims did not know. However, female truck drivers are more likely to experience harassment from another truck driver at their company, or their trainers.

 

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About half of the harassments go unreported. About 42% of women, 57% of minority males and 51% of nonminority males choose not to report the harassment, the study said. The reason given was that drivers either did not think it would make a difference or they believe they just have to deal with it.

The study concluded that truck drivers, dispatchers, carriers, and customers need to communicate to choose a travel plan that is efficient and safe. Delays and scheduling conflicts at shipper and receiver facilities can force truckers to park in unsafe locations.

“Provide personal safety training to truck drivers,” the study recommended. “Many respondents indicated that they never received any type of training on personal safety and protection. Therefore, truck drivers could benefit from personal safety, security, protection, as well as self-defense programs.”

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