With federal safety regulations for the trucking industry temporarily suspended, there may be a rise in truck accidents and injury claims during the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 May Cause a Rise in Truck Accidents
To fill shortages for necessary supplies and speed up deliveries around the country, the government has suspended federal safety regulations for commercial truckers. Imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), regulations mandate strict daily driving hours and rest breaks for all commercial truck drivers.
In March, the Trump Administration lifted FMCSA regulations for a temporary period to increase public health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Without mandated driving hours, commercial truckers can transport and deliver important medical supplies to hospitals and essential supplies to retailers much faster. Since the outbreak began, medical workers and retailers have experienced a huge shortage of essentials including personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary and cleaning supplies, and groceries.
The emergency suspension of FMCSA regulations applies only to commercial carriers providing direct relief from COVIC-19 shortages. It does not apply to carriers making routine commercial deliveries. Emergency orders apply to all commercial trucking companies who transport the following:
- All types of medical equipment, supplies, and medications needed by hospitals and medical facilities for medical care and research
- Essential medical supplies required by consumers to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, illnesses, and deaths
- Essential supplies and equipment needed to build or renovate temporary emergency facilities
- Food, grocery items, and household supplies to restock grocery stores
- Medical workers, first responders, and emergency personnel
In times of national crises, the President and state governors have the authority to issue emergency declarations. The suspension of FMCSA safety regulations qualifies because it provides emergency relief. However, there are safety concerns for commercial truckers driving unlimited hours and long distances without required rest stops. For decades, the trucking industry has experienced a high rate of trucking accidents caused by drowsy driving and fatigue. According to statistics, drowsy driving causes over 100,000 trucking accidents every year in America, and many involve fatal injuries to truckers, vehicle drivers and passengers, and pedestrians.
With FMCSA safety regulations suspended, commercial carriers and truck drivers must practice safe driving behaviors to prevent fatigue and drowsiness behind the wheel. Each year, truck accident lawyers see thousands of serious injuries and deaths caused by fully loaded big-rigs and semi-trucks that weigh 80,000 pounds. Until FMCSA regulations are reinstated, truckers must take extra precautions to prevent hazards on the road.