COVID-19: Increased Risk of Truck Accidents Due to the Suspension of Hours-of-Service Regulations
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and healthcare facilities rely on medical supplies, medications, sanitizers, and personal protective equipment more than ever before. However, given that hospitals, pharmacies, stores, and healthcare centers are running low on these coronavirus-related items, there is an increased demand for truck freight.
In view of this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) temporarily suspended its hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for certain truckers, something it has never done since the law was developed in 1938.
The move came during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the speedy delivery of crucial items during these unprecedented times.
HOS Regulations Temporarily Suspended During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The temporary suspension of the HOS regulations is definitely a good thing considering that more truck drivers will be able to deliver important supplies to hospitals and other facilities faster.
However, with truckers no longer bound by the hours-of-service law, trucking and shipping companies are more likely to exploit their drivers during the coronavirus pandemic. This could make truckers more susceptible to driver fatigue, increasing the risk of truck accidents.
Before the suspension, truckers were not allowed to drive more than 11 hours during a 14-hour-workday. Also, the law required them to take short rest breaks every 8 hours. Before starting a new shift, every truck driver was required to log 10 hours off-duty time. A violation of HOS regulations resulted in serious penalties for both the truck driver and their trucking company.
Increased Risk of Drowsy Driving During the Coronavirus Pandemic
With the suspension of the HOS regulations, trucking and shipping companies can set unrealistic deadlines and demand as much time as they want for their truck drivers. This situation can heighten the risk of drowsiness and falling asleep behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, this could result in an increased risk of truck crashes on our nation’s highways and roadways as there is no law that would prevent truck drivers from drowsy driving. The lack of HOS regulations can lead drivers to ignore signs of drowsiness and drive for more hours without taking breaks.
While falling asleep behind the wheel of any motor vehicle can lead to auto accidents, fatigued driving in truck drivers can lead to disastrous crashes. However, falling asleep is not the only consequence of drowsiness. Drowsy driving can also:
- Interfere with the trucker’s ability to make good decisions;
- Slow the driver’s reaction times;
- Impede the driver’s braking and steering ability to avoid collisions; and
- Take the driver’s attention away from the road.
These factors can increase the risk of a truck crash in Winter Haven, Lakeland, and other parts of Florida. Even when FMCSA regulations were in effect, many truck drivers violated the HOS law. However, without this crucial law, drowsy driving could become even more widespread among truckers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though the HOS regulations have been temporarily suspended, trucking companies are still required to carry insurance and comply with a plethora of other laws such as alcohol testing and license requirements. Thus, if you were hurt in a truck collision during the COVID-19 pandemic, you still have legal options to receive monetary compensation.