Giving a friend or family member a ride when they need one seems like something any decent person would do. This is certainly true when you’re operating a passenger vehicle but it may cost you your job and perhaps your career as a commercial truck driver if you give an unauthorized person a ride in your truck. Why? Because it’s the law. Authorization in writing is required from the motor carrier that employs you.
If you have an unauthorized passenger and a DOT officer pulls you over, he or she may issue a citation, warning, or violation. You may also lose your job, and your employer may report the violation in your DAC report, which will place you at a disadvantage when looking for work from other trucking companies.
Two reasons for this requirement are safety and liability. This law is meant to protect the driver from kidnapping, robbery, truck hijacking, and other dangers. A truck hijacking endangers the public especially if the truck carries hazardous materials. Even the truck itself presents a danger because of its size and weight. When a hitchhiker goes rogue on you, there is a big potential for an accident.
The other concern from the point of view of your company is liability. If you get into an accident or your passenger is otherwise injured, medical bills, lost wages, or long-term disability can motivate the person to sue you. Your employer will most likely be targeted because they have the insurance that covers such a possibility. The requirement for authorization gives your employer greater control over their liability risks.
Don’t assume this couldn’t happen because the person is a friend. It’s a fact of life that friends sue friends. We live in a “sue happy” society, thanks in part to the law firm businesses.
Don’t take any chances. Never carry a passenger, even if she or he is your spouse, without a written authorization from your employer.