With much of the population staying home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, truck drivers are taking over the roadway and working harder than ever before. Even without a nationwide health crisis, truck drivers transport 70% of goods in the United States. Now, there is an increased demand for sanitary products and medical supplies, including toilet paper, hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks.
To account for rising sanitary needs, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has temporarily suspended hours-of-service regulations for the first time since 1938.
What Are Hours-of-Service Regulations?
Hours-of-service laws are important federal regulations that limit how long a driver can spend behind the wheel. According to these regulations, drivers may not spend more than 11 hours behind the wheel in a 14-hour workday and must take regular breaks. Truck drivers also have to log 10 hours of off-duty time before they can start a new shift.
For the time being, certain drivers will not have to adhere to these laws and can largely spend as much time as they want behind the wheel. While this may help them get the necessary goods to grocery stores and hospitals faster, it can also create unrealistic expectations and dangerous conditions.
Hours-of-service regulations were partially developed to prevent shipping companies from exploiting drivers and forcing them to push their biological limits. Similarly, these laws are meant to minimize driver fatigue.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Anyone can be affected by too little sleep and many drivers suffer the consequences of drowsy driving. That being said, commercial drivers are more likely to drive drowsy. Not only can a drowsy driver fall asleep at the wheel and cause a devastating accident, but drowsy driving also affects:
- A driver’s ability to pay attention to the road
- The speed of a driver’s reaction time (for sudden braking and steering)
- A driver’s decision-making ability
Any of the impairments above can lead to a serious accident. Large trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and can cause life-changing injuries and even death.
What To Do If You’ve Been Affected
Call us at (843) 968-0886 today or get in touch online for a free consultation.