For the first time in history, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has loosened its restrictions on how long truck drivers can remain behind the wheel without resting.
The agency has temporarily lifted its hours-of-service regulations for truckers who carry emergency goods such as medical supplies, sanitizers, and food. The move is in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused critical shortages over much of the country.
Normally, truckers are limited to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour day to reduce the risk of accidents caused by drowsy driving. Fatigue is a noted problem within the industry. Around 13 percent of truckers involved in accidents are considered fatigued at the time of the wreck, according to FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study.
For now, certain drivers are allowed to extend their trips to deliver loads as quickly as possible to hospitals, stores, and other essential businesses. Drivers of mixed loads or non-essential goods are still subject to normal hours-of-service restrictions.
Making unprecedented decisions often comes in times of crisis. The response to the coronavirus has proved no different. While the swift shipment of goods is vital to first responders and communities, FMCSA’s decision also has the potential to negatively affect road safety.
With fewer restrictions on commercial drivers, how can the public feel assured that they will make safe choices and rest when necessary? Furthermore, how will these temporary new rules apply if you or a loved one is injured in a truck accident during the pandemic? These are the types of questions that the South Carolina truck accident attorneys at Stewart Law Offices are examining now. Just as the trucking industry is changing due to COVID-19, so is the legal landscape. You can count on us to stay on top of all of these changes and advise clients of what they might mean for a legal claim.
Your Legal Rights After a Truck Accident Injury
People who are injured in tractor-trailer accidents caused by another party have the right to seek compensation for their losses. You aren’t stripped of those legal rights during a national emergency. Having a lawyer who can help you navigate the complicated state and federal liability laws during this unparalleled period of chaos can help ensure that your rights are protected and enforced appropriately.
At Stewart Law Offices, we can stay socially distant and still provide you with the free legal advice you need and deserve. If you’ve been in a South Carolina truck accident, call or contact us online to arrange a no-cost consultation.