With many individuals across the nation staying home due to state-wide restrictions imposed during the Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) crisis, one of the few positives was the anticipated reduction in motor vehicle collisions. However, it is quickly becoming apparent that an already strained commercial trucking industry may be facing the “perfect storm,” and innocent drivers on the road are being put in danger.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the commercial trucking industry was already facing a nationwide shortage in qualified truck drivers. In the face of the pandemic, the demand for shipment of food, packages, medical supplies, and other essentials has put an undue strain on the drivers in the field. In the face of that demand, the U.S. Department of Transportation has provided “regulatory relief” during the COVID-19 crisis in the form of exemptions for truck drivers from rules regulating the number of service hours permitted. These “hours of service” regulations were originally enacted in 1938 to reduce the number of fatigued drivers on the road, which, in turn, would reduce the number of accidents. The regulations were also enacted with the clear recognition that a fatigued driver in a large commercial vehicle presents an imminent threat to other drivers on the road.
Under the new exemptions, commercial truckers hauling essential goods are no longer restricted from working more than 70 hours in an 8-day period, and are no longer required to take mandatory 30-minute breaks after every 8 hours of driving. While the federal government emphasized that the exemptions do not apply to all commercial truckers, a closer look at the exemptions reveals that they are incredibly broad, and include any trucker delivering anything related to medical supplies and equipment, sanitation, food, temporary housing supplies, and other emergency related materials.
The result? Overworked commercial truckers on the road with less sleep and more fatigue, which has already resulted in more catastrophic accidents with other vehicles on the road. A recipe for disaster.
The attorneys at SBWD law have been on the forefront of trucking and transportation liability and have participated in numerous, groundbreaking cases that established liability for shippers when hiring truck drivers. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a large commercial vehicle or truck contact the attorneys at SBWD Law immediately. Accidents with commercial vehicles often involve multiple insurance policies for the driver and the trucking company, which can be incredibly complicated to navigate. Additionally, many commercial trucking insurance companies have insurance representatives, accident reconstructionists, or, in some cases, attorneys come to the scene to investigate the accident, giving them a head start. The attorneys at SBWD Law are here to help you during the COVID-19 crisis with any inquiries regarding your case.