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Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Pushing Truckers Past Their Limits?

Written by Ankin Law Office

A rise in essential delivery services across the nation is putting more trucks on American roads and highways and pushing truck drivers past their safety limits.

Truckers Pushed to Their Limits

Under normal conditions, the trucking industry must comply with strict regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused FMCSA to revise its regulations to provide relief to businesses that need essential supplies for businesses and consumers.

Due to the impact of coronavirus on the U.S. economy, President Trump has suspended federal trucking safety regulations that mandate driving hours for commercial truck drivers. Normal safety regulations limit a commercial trucker to a maximum of 11 driving hours within a 14-hour work period without breaks and rest stops to prevent fatigue, a big problem within the commercial trucking industry. In Chicago, truck accident lawyers handle a large percentage of trucking injury cases that involve driver fatigue and drowsy driving.

When a national crisis occurs, federal and state laws permit the president and state governors to issue emergency declarations that protect public health. Federal trucking safety regulations were suspended to protect public health and safety by providing faster transport and delivery of vital supplies like medical equipment, food supplies, and basic consumer necessities. With the suspension of FMCSA regulations, commercial truckers and certain types of delivery drivers are allowed to stay on the road longer hours without mandated breaks and rest stops.

The COVID-19 pandemic has decreased vehicle traffic in most cities, but put many more commercial truckers on the road. Chicago is filled with large trucks transporting medical equipment and essential supplies to medical facilities. Food delivery trucks are pushing to deliver products to grocery stores and restaurants. Amazon delivery vans packed with consumer goods are crowding city streets. With truckers pushing hard to make deliveries, the trucking industry is worried about increased truck accidents and personal injury claims filed with truck accident lawyers.

According to FMCSA crash studies for large commercial trucks, at least 13 percent of commercial truckers are found to be drowsy or very fatigued at the time of a crash. The study notes that drowsy driving and fatigue are commonly caused by driving too many hours in a day, inadequate daily rest and sleep, physical and/or mental exertion, and alcohol, drugs, and medications. In Illinois, 2017 crash statistics from the Department of Transportation reported 11,000 trucking accidents which resulted in 1,818 serious injuries and 96 deaths.