WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are taking the next step toward creating regulations aimed at protecting women and minority truck drivers from sexual assault and harassment.

In a request for information (RFI) scheduled to be published on Thursday, FMCSA outlined plans for a study to quantify the frequency and severity of sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH) across the trucking industry.

“For example, FMCSA seeks information on how best to treat categories of gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity in the study, as well as best practices in designing questions that use the latest standards for SASH research and address the breadth and life cycles of careers in the industry,” the agency stated.

“FMCSA will use the results of this study to understand any potential regulatory or policy measures needed to improve driver safety and mitigate SASH, work with industry partners on outreach and other efforts to improve driver safety through SASH prevention, and support the participation of women in the CMV industry.”

The agency wants to build on a November 2022 study it sponsored that evaluated harassment of women and minority men truckers, with nonminority men serving as a control group. The study found that women truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to sex-related crimes and are more likely to experience harassment from other truck drivers or from driver-trainers.

It also found that while women report incidents more than men, harassment tends to go unreported due to fear of retaliation.

That study, however, came under immediate fire from FMCSA’s Women of Trucking Advisory Board (WOTAB), which was set up in 2022 to advise the agency on ways to improve job quality for women. Panel members said the study fell short in several areas, including sample design and categories of gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity.

“WOTAB noted in particular that it is important to understand SASH with additional depth and breadth to ensure there is an awareness of the magnitude of SASH across the industry,” FMCSA acknowledged in the RFI.

To help design the study, FMCSA is asking the public for answers to a list of questions, including:

What type of study design will best characterize the nature and scope of sexual assault and sexual harassment within the trucking industry that can be used to develop appropriate countermeasures?

What are best practices or methods for capturing gender identity information?

What are best practices to consider when asking demographic questions about sexual orientation and ethnicity?

Who should be included in the study?

What are the optimum methods to capture the breadth of SASH?

What categories of questions should FMCSA include that will ensure a comprehensive approach to the issue?

Related articles:

FMCSA issues policy on sexual assault among truck drivers

New anti-harassment guidance could raise compliance bar for trucking

FMCSA takes on fraud concerns in new CDL testing rule

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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