What Small Trucking Companies Need to Know About Forced Dispatch

Small trucking companies may feel pressure to take on as much work as possible, and may consider following the forced dispatch trend that many larger carriers are following. Doing so will not only put you at risk of breaking the law, but it will also cause bigger issues with employee retention and loyalty.

Here’s what small trucking companies need to know about forced dispatch.

What is Forced Dispatch?

In the early days of trucking, it was common for dispatchers to push truckers to take loads. It’s part of the reason teamsters formed in the early 1900s.

It occurs when a driver is not able or willing to take a trip, but the trucking company or dispatch finds a way to insist that the driver take the load. In some cases, loads are forced on drivers through the risk of losing their jobs. These drivers use their income to lease their trucks through the trucking companies. They don’t want to lose their job because they refused to drive, so they take the job even if they feel that it’s unsafe to do so.

Forced Dispatch is Illegal

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established a rule making it illegal to force drivers to drive against their will. Drivers may refuse to take a load because they are ill, their vehicle is malfunctioning, they’re up against hours of service regulations, they’re tired, or they’re experiencing another issue that makes it unsafe to drive.

Trucking companies that are found guilty of violating this regulation will face fines up to $16,000. They may also lose their operating authority.

The coercion rule does a few things to reduce accidents and make the road a safer place for all drivers.

  • It sets up a system for truckers to report when someone is trying to coerce them into breaking the law.
  • Establishes penalties when coercion is confirmed.
  • Outlines the steps that the FMCSA will take when a report of coercion is made.

The ultimate goal is to reduce truck accidents on roadways, but also to protect drivers from being exploited and overworked. Other industries have protections for workers. That’s what this regulation is aimed at providing.

Coercion Still Occurs

Despite laws and regulations, coercion is still rampant in the industry. Why? Part of the problem, experts say, is the House of Service Rules (HOS Rules). The HOS mandate how long a driver may be on the road and driving before he or she must stop to take a break.

If truckers stick to these rules, they may not make their deadline. That equates to lost profits for the trucking companies, shippers and receivers. There is an incentive to push drivers to keep on driving and ignore federal regulations.

Trucking companies may threaten drivers with things like:

  • Not getting future work if they don’t ignore HOS Rules.
  • Getting fired if they don’t keep driving.
  • Losing the best routes or jobs in the future.
  • Getting unfavorable work days, such as holidays, if they don’t ignore the rules.







Alex is a small business blogger with a focus on entrepreneurship and growth. With over 5 years of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Alex has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, approachable and entrepreneurial-minded blogger. He has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners, and is able to provide actionable advice and strategies for success. Alex has interviewed successful entrepreneurs, and covered major small business events such as the Small Business Expo and the Inc. 500|5000 conference. He is also a successful entrepreneur himself, having started and grown several small businesses in different industries.