Increasing driver pay improves safety, but removing driver facing cameras will make things more dangerous.
The truck crash lawyers at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima have been closely following the labor negotiations between United Parcel Service (UPS) and their employees’ labor union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The company and the union recently reached a landmark agreement, which still needs to be voted on and ratified by union members.
As a general matter, we support the union’s right to demand better wages, fair holiday time, and no more forced overtime on drivers’ off days. Higher wages for truck drivers means improved highway safety for everyone. When trucking and delivery companies like UPS increase pay, they are able to attract and retain better qualified, competent, and safe drivers. That’s a win-win-win…better performance for the company, better standard of living for the driver’s family, and less chance of a serious or deadly crash for the general public.
The same is true for cutting back on forced overtime and granting more holiday leave. A properly rested driver is a safer driver. When drivers are forced to work more shifts or longer hours, the chances of them having a crash skyrockets. It’s why the Department of Transportation has rules for maximum hours a driver can be on the clock in a given day or week.
All that said, there is one very alarming aspect of this agreement that keep us from being fully supportive. As part of the labor deal, union members demanded a ban on driver facing cameras in UPS vehicles, which the company agreed to. The union’s position is that UPS uses the cameras to “spy” on drivers and unfairly use camera footage for disciplinary purposes.
While it is easy to be sympathetic to the drivers over unfair disciplinary practices, an outright ban on cameras is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Driver-facing cameras is an important safety technology that protects lives. They give companies like UPS the ability to monitor driver behavior and take action, proactively, if they find that a driver is being unsafe behind the wheel, like using a handheld cell phone, being inattentive to traffic conditions, or even falling asleep while driving.
Our firm has handled cases where driver-facing cameras have provided clear evidence of drivers doing each of those things, which highlights another critical benefit the cameras provide. When there is a crash, resulting in serious physical injury or death, the cameras are the very best (and often times ONLY) way to know how and why the truck crash occurred. In every one of our cases where driver-facing camera footage was available, proving why the truck crash happened would have been exponentially harder, if not impossible, without the video.
There must be a way to address the union’s concerns over unfair disciplinary action without jeopardizing the health and safety of other motorists or preventing lawyers representing crash victims from uncovering the truth behind massive truck crashes. Banning a proven, effective safety technology is a bad deal for all of us.