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Trucking companies and their dangerous and deadly practices

While truck drivers come from all walks of life, many, particularly in California, are lower-income immigrants who speak minimal English. Yet, they hold significant responsibilities to haul essential goods for high-profile retailers that include Costco, Target and Home Depot.

Apparently, those responsibilities are coming at a significant cost, both financially and to drivers' well-being.

The USA Today Network conducted a yearlong investigation that revealed the dangerous illegal practices employed by Southern California-based port trucking companies. Perhaps the most significant issue involves businesses forcing drivers to finance their own trucks. Drivers end up taking on debts beyond what they can afford. The practice becomes a trap when trucking companies use ballooning past-due balances as leverage to trap drivers into working for them.

Financing vehicles is only one example of that may are calling modern-day indentured servitude. Far too many tactics go beyond extracting forced labor and put operators and other drivers sharing the road with them at risk.

  • Drivers claim that they were forced to break federal safety laws limiting truckers to 11 hours on the road per day.
  • Drivers were threatened with losing their trucks and the money they paid up to that point if they did not drive 20 hours a day and falsify inspection reports that tracked hours.
  • Managers at some companies physically prevented truckers from leaving by locking parking lot gates and ordering them back to work.

These and other trucking company tactics have lead to more than 20 fatalities from 2013 to 2015 based on an analysis of federal crash and port trade data.

Drivers are often presumed to be at fault when trucking accidents occur. However, there may be more to the story. Investigations of all forms can uncover the facts behind tragic events.

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