Many responses to the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been double-edged swords. Canceling events, for example, helps slow the spread of the virus, but it also eliminates jobs. Similarly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s temporary suspension of hours-of-service regulations helps us get necessary goods, but it also puts everyone on the road at risk. Without limits on how many hours a truck driver can spend behind the wheel, many drivers may be working while overworked or exhausted. With up to 80,000 pounds of cargo and large vehicles that are difficult to maneuver, tired truckers could spell disaster for other drivers on the road.
WHAT ARE FMCSA HOURS-OF-SERVICE REGULATIONS?
Hours-of-service regulations allow drivers up to 11 hours behind the wheel per 14-hour shift, assuming they take regular rest breaks. They also require drivers to log 10 hours of off-duty time before they can return to driving.
For more information on FMCSA regulations, please click here.
WHAT HAPPENS WITHOUT HOURS-OF-SERVICE REGULATIONS?
Without FMCSA regulations, truck drivers can drive for as long as they want without breaks and on inadequate amounts of sleep. Even before these regulations were suspended, commercial drivers were more likely to drive drowsy than other motorists.
Drowsy driving can lead to truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel and causing major accidents, but it can also cause:
- Decreased ability to pay attention to the road
- Slower reaction time
- Difficulty with decision making
All of the challenges above can increase a trucker’s likelihood of causing a crash. With heightened demand, pressure from their employers, and hours-of-service suspensions, truck drivers are more likely to drive with less sleep, and thus more likely to cause a devastating truck accident.
WHAT IF I AM INJURED IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT?
Although certain truck drivers and shipping companies no longer have to adhere to certain FMCSA regulations for the first time since 1938, they still owe everyone on the road a duty of care.
All we can do is drive carefully around large trucks and hope drowsy drivers pull over when they feel tired regardless of whether or not regular rest breaks are required.
At Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC, we are grateful for the hard work of truck drivers in our community, but we are also here to protect the rights of the injured and bereaved.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a truck accident, please do not hesitate to contact our attorneys. We can be reached 918-492-7674 or online and we will not collect any legal fees unless we win your case. For the legal help you need, call or click today!