Essentially all facets of day-to-day life have been impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, including what products you can find in the typical retail store. Shortages of basics have become widespread, and medical supplies like masks and gloves are also wearing thin at medical centers. To try to replenish necessary supplies sooner than later, the Trump Administration has temporarily lifted two federal trucking regulations.
What two trucking regulations have been suspended?
- Shift length: Before the coronavirus pandemic, the typical commercial truck driver could not be scheduled for more than 14 hours in a single shift, which is already a long workday. With the regulation lifted, a truck driver can be scheduled to work much longer, as long as they do not pick up routes in mid-shift.
- Weight limit: The typical federal weight limit on most commercial trucks has also been lifted, allowing for some trailers to be loaded more than usual. The weight limit varies depending on the type and size of a truck, but many are usually restricted to no more than 10,001 pounds while in transit.
The regulations have only been lifted for certain commercial trucks, though. In specific, a truck must transport some sort of product, supply, or personnel related to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, a truck delivering food to a grocery store nearly out of products due to people hoarding can increase its weight limit to bring more items at once. Or a commercial vehicle driver transporting doctors from a small town to another city with higher patient demands could accept a longer shift to get the medical personnel to their destination in one, uninterrupted trip.
(You can learn more about the lifted regulations by clicking here to view a full article from WCIA newsgroup.)
Fewer Regulations Could Mean More Accidents
While it is undoubtedly good to mitigate any impact the COVID-19 pandemic causes, it is also questionable to lift safety regulations to do so. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses the two lifted regulations to prevent truck accidents caused by overloaded trucks and exhausted truck drivers. The limitation on how long a shift can be driven by a commercial trucker was actually first created in the 1930s, meaning the FMCSA acknowledged even back then that a fatigued trucker is a dangerous one.
When the national state of emergency prompted by the coronavirus pandemic is ended, the lifted regulations will be enacted once again. But there is no clear idea as to when that will happen. Even as some states prepare to reopen nonessential businesses, others are struggling to contain the virus’s spread, so the national order will likely stay in place for much longer.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for commercial trucks when you are driving during the quarantine. You might be safe in assuming that the truck driver behind the wheel is exhausted and/or hauling more freight than normal, two issues that dramatically increase their chances of causing a truck accident. Try to give big rigs plenty of space if you can. Use nonadjacent lanes, do not tailgate, and even use an alternative route if possible.
Explore Your Legal Options After a Crash
If you or someone you love is hit by a truck driver who was exhausted or driving an overloaded trailer, please remember that you have options to seek justice and compensation. By bringing a trucking accident claim against them, you might be able to have all of your experienced damages repaid, including noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. You will also be sending a message to trucking companies, demanding that safety still be kept in center focus, even while regulations are temporarily suspended. In doing so, you might help prevent a similar accident from hurting someone else.
Do you live in Delaware and need legal representation to make sense of your truck accident claim? Call (302) 663-7135 and connect with Bifferato Gentilotti LLC in Wilmington. Our firm was founded in 1995 and our attorneys have more than 80 years of collective legal experience. Use our insight and strengths as your own to confidently file your claim in pursuit of fair compensation after a truck accident that was not your fault.
Free initial consultations are available to inquiring clients.
About the Author
Attorney Vincent A. Bifferato, Jr. is a native of Delaware. He is committed to providing strong advocacy for each client he represents. With more than 30 years of trial experience, he is equipped to handle any case.