It's not uncommon for federal, state, or local governments to lift some safety regulations during a state of emergency. For the first time in history, the federal hours-of-service (HOS) laws for truck drivers (enacted in 1938) have been temporarily suspended due to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a statement issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
That means commercial truck drivers responsible for transporting essential goods and supplies are currently not bound by the HOS laws, as of March 13, 2020.
Which truck drivers are exempt from the HOS law?
About 70 percent of America's essential goods are transported by large commercial trucks. The FMCSA exempts drivers from the HOS law when carrying the following supplies:
- Medical equipment used for testing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19
- Supplies for sanitation and safety, including gloves, face masks, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
- Food for ensuring that grocery stores are restocked
- Supplies and persons needed for providing temporary housing, quarantine and isolation for COVID-19 patients
- Persons designated by federal, state, or local government to provide medical assistance for patients who are isolated or in quarantine
Will suspension of the HOS law increase the risk of drowsy driving crashes?
The federal HOS law limits driving time for large commercial truck drivers to 11 hours within a 14-hour work shift. In addition, they must log 10 hours of off-duty time in between shifts. The purpose of the HOS law is to help prevent truck drivers from falling asleep while driving and putting the lives of others on the road in danger.
During these difficult times, it's critical that essential goods and services are delivered to those who need it. The suspension of the HOS law could potentially lead to a temporary increase in drowsy driving truck accidents. Since drowsy driving crashes tend to happen at full speed, other road users may sustain serious and life-threatening injuries.
The San Antonio attorneys at Herrera Law Firm applaud the services offered by truck drivers at this time. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash with a drowsy truck driver, however, it's important that you speak to one of our experienced truck accident attorneys.
Our legal team will be fully operational during COVID-19. We want to ensure that you get the legal help you need while looking out for your safety and ours. If you need help with your truck accident claim, we'll be available to provide free, remote consultations to new and existing clients.
Contact us online or call us at (210) 224-1054 to schedule your consultation.