Due to recent evidence showing “a serious pattern of harassment- and assault-related crimes against female and minority male truckers,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will study the “prevalence, seriousness, and nature of the problem of harassment and assaults” that have been committed.
The agency is submitting, once again, an information collection request to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The request will ask for approval to conduct a “Crime Prevention for Truckers” study–similar to the agency’s request from last July.
“FMCSA has accumulated evidence, both documentary and anecdotal” for these kinds of harassment, said the agency in its pre-publication announcement late last month.
“For example,” it said, “Security Journal, in a  article titled ‘Workplace Violence against Female Long-haul Truckers,’ reported that 42% of female long-haul truckers reported experiencing one or more types of workplace violence.”
To gain momentum toward validating the problems at hand, FMCSA has decided to work with Battelle in executing a primary exploratory survey of female and minority truckers. Analysis of the survey’s results will “begin to formulate an approach to reducing,” the agency explained.
FMCSA’s intended study will include a maximum of 440 female truckers and 440 male minority truckers, with data being collected from both online surveys and in-person interviews. For a driver to be eligible, he or she will need to confirm that they are either a female or a minority male who has worked professionally as a truck driver within the past two years. If chosen, they will receive a $25 incentive upon completing the interview or survey.
If a significant issues are found, FMCSA plans to develop outreach and training methods and materials to help truckers protect themselves from harassment and crime.
“First, there seems to be a perception among these subpopulations of truckers that they are more vulnerable than others,” said the agency of its reasoning. “Second, there is a critical shortage of truckers, and helping these subpopulations of truckers protect themselves from crimes could draw more truckers from these subpopulations, while stemming turnover, to alleviate the shortage.”
However, the study will not be used explicitly for rulemaking. FMCSA said those interested in participating in the survey may submit their written comments on the proposed information collection to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget. These comments will be taken until the end of March.
The reasoning for the lack of action, FMCSA said, is that it does not yet have a full grasp of the scope of the problem. Until then, no effective solutions for preventing crimes against minority truckers can be put in place.
“Currently, there is insufficient data,” the agency said. “[With] the frequency and number of harassment- and assault-related crimes occurring, the portion that are unreported, and reasons for underreporting, are unknown.”
As of now, FMCSA does not provide any training to truckers on how to protect themselves from being harassed, robbed, stalked, or assaulted.
The agency’s exploratory survey will aim to be an analysis of data–however limited the scope of data may be–that will aid the FMCSA in understanding “the nature and extent of the problem and begin to formulate an approach to reducing it.”
The survey will ask drivers whether or not they have experienced race- or gender-related harassment or crimes while working. If they have, follow-up questions will ask them where and when these instances took place, what they respondent knows about the perpetrator, and whether or not the respondent reported the incident.
The questions will be anonymous, and none will ask for any kind of information that could possibly identify the respondent or the perpetrators involved in any incident.
Findings from the data analysis will be compiled into a comprehensive report available on FMCSA’s website for interested public and stakeholders to read.
Desiree Wood, president of Real Women in Trucking Inc., welcomed the survey and said her group has received distress calls related to sexual misconduct in entry-level driver training fleets for at least 10 years.
FMCSA is asking the public to comment in any regard to this proposal, including on: 1) Whether the collection is necessary for the agency to properly perform its functions; 2) the accuracy of the burden estimated; 3) how FMCSA can enhance the quality and usefulness of the collected information; and 4) ways to minimize the burden without reducing the quality of the collected information.
Comments should reference Federal Docket Management System Docket Number FMCSA-2018-0278. Information on how to submit comments can be found here.