Truck drivers are keeping our nation safe and supplied during the COVID-19 global pandemic. But as the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration makes temporary adjustments to safety regulations, it’s more important than ever that the trucking industry works to reduce the rates of deadly truck wrecks.
In this blog, we’ll review how the trucking industry is adjusting to keep up with the evolving coronavirus pandemic. We’ll also discuss safety regulations to keep an eye on and explain how all drivers can stay safe on the road as we get through this crisis together.
Trucking Regulations Change During COVID-19 Crisis
With social distancing measures creating more shipping demand for safety equipment, groceries, cleaning supplies, and essentials like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, truck drivers are more vital to our nation’s health than ever. However, the increased need for shipping services has led the federal government to loosen regulations that govern the trucking industry. Some trucking companies will inevitably take advantage of the reduced oversight to cut corners and engage in unsafe practices.
CVSA Postpones International Roadcheck
The International Roadcheck is a three-day blitz inspection of commercial trucks in the United States and Canada. When the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducted the annual event last year, they uncovered more than 12,019 vehicle issues and 2,784 driver errors. When Roadcheck inspectors discover a serious safety issue, they put the truck out of service until the driver or trucking company resolves the problem. The 2020 Roadcheck is scheduled to take place later in 2020, which means critical safety issues could go unaddressed for longer.
Federal Government Lifts Maximum Driving Hours Limitations
For the first time since the Hours of Service law was passed in 1938, long-haul truckers who are delivering goods that support COVID-19 emergency relief efforts do not have to comply with the maximum driving hours rules. Normally, truckers may only drive 11 hours within a 14-hour work period before they must 10 hours off-duty. Under this emergency declaration by the Trump Administration, truckers hauling medical supplies, food, sanitization equipment, or certain personnel may exceed the 11-hour driving limit.
Trainee Truckers Can Operate Without a CDL
New trainee drivers without their Commercial Driving License (CDL) will be able to operate a truck for three months during the coronavirus crisis. There are two conditions to this new rule: the trainee driver must have already passed their CDL driving test, and there must be a CDL-holding driver in the truck. The new provision is meant to prevent a shortage of drivers and keep supply chains moving, but it also puts inexperienced drivers behind the wheel, where they will be driving extremely long hours on unfamiliar routes.
The Rush to Deliver and New Guidelines Could Create a Dangerous Situation
While these new emergency rules are designed to keep our stores, hospitals, and emergency supplies well-stocked and our communities safe during the coronavirus lockdown, they could have unintended consequences. Stress and fatigue are a dangerous combination, and when inexperienced drivers get behind the wheel, the high-pressure need to deliver these essential goods could result in a deadly lapse in judgment, concentration, and ability.
According to the FMCSA, 87% of truck crashes are caused by the truck driver making a poor decision, not recognizing a dangerous situation, or failing to perform. Putting drivers in highly stressful situations and expecting them to drive safely on less rest and sleep is a recipe for a surge in devastating truck crashes.
What to Do After a Truck Crash
If you or someone you love was hurt in a truck crash during the coronavirus crisis, you should know how to protect yourself after a collision.
Get Medical Attention
If you’re seriously injured in a wreck, don’t wait to go to the emergency room. If you’re not sure how severely injured you are, call ahead of time before going in. And if you’re worried about payment, remember that medical bills can be included in a truck crash settlement or lawsuit.
Call the Police
If you can, call the police and other first responders after a crash. A police report is a critical piece of evidence.
Document Your Injuries and the Effects on Your Life
If you’re physically able, keep a journal that documents how much pain they’re in, the work you miss, and the other ways the accident has impacted your life. This will help an attorney understand the severity of your injuries and the value of your truck accident case.
Call an Experienced Trucking Attorney
When you’re grateful just to be alive after a truck crash, you shouldn’t have to worry about fighting the insurance company for compensation. At Seattle Truck Law, we fight for you so you can focus on your recovery. We can also communicate with you remotely and keep your case moving forward while protecting you from unnecessary risk of contracting coronavirus.
Hurt in a Crash During the COVID-19 Crisis? Call Seattle Truck Law
If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash with a truck during the coronavirus crisis, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced personal injury team at Seattle Truck Law. For more than 20 years, we’ve focused exclusively on helping the victims of truck accidents and other commercial vehicle crashes. Our founding attorney Morgan Adams is a board-certified truck accident lawyer, and every attorney in our office has driven a tractor-trailer. We’ll meet with you in a free, confidential consultation to help you understand your options and what to do next. We’re working every day during the current coronavirus crisis and are able to handle all communications remotely.
Large truck crash causation study – analysis brief. (2014, April). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief
FMCSA issues COVID-19 waiver for truck drivers with learner permits. (2020, March 31). Transport Topics. Retrieved from https://www.ttnews.com/articles/fmcsa-issues-covid-19-waiver-truck-drivers-learner-permits
Premack, R. (2020, March 14). In an unprecedented move, the Trump administration suspended an 82-year-old road safety law for some truck drivers, showing how much coronavirus is pressuring retailers and hospitals to maintain cleaning and medical supplies. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-trucking-truck-driver-hours-of-service-suspended-2020-3
Premack, R. (2020, March 26). The coronavirus just indefinitely postponed truck drivers’ most hated 72 hours of the year — and the unprecedented move shows how panic buying is slamming trucking. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-inspection-blitz-postponed-indefinitely-amid-coronavirus-2020-3
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.