Truck drivers transport and deliver 70% of goods in the United States. With the rapid depletion of medical supplies and unprecedented “panic buying” of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes; truckers are struggling to keep stores and healthcare centers stocked.
In an effort to support “emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has temporarily suspended hours-of-service regulations for some drivers. These laws were developed in 1938 and they were suspended for the first time in our nation’s history on March 14, 2020.
Good News and Bad News
Without hours-of-service laws, truck drivers may be able to get crucial supplies to hospitals and grocery stores faster. On the other hand, however, they may be more susceptible to driver fatigue and exploitation by shipping companies.
Before the suspension, drivers could not exceed 11 hours behind the wheel in a 14-hour-workday and they had to take short rest breaks every 8 hours. They also had to log 10 hours off-duty time before starting another shift. Whenever truck drivers or shipping companies violated these regulations, they faced serious penalties.
Now, shipping companies can disregard a driver’s wellbeing almost entirely and demand as much time as they want behind the wheel. This pressure can lead a driver to ignore signs of drowsiness and drive for hours on end without breaks.
If a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel, the results can be disastrous.
Consequences of Drowsy Driving
Falling asleep at the wheel is the most obvious consequence of drowsy driving, but drivers who haven’t had enough sleep can be affected in other ways.
- Interfere with your ability to make good decisions
- Slow your reaction time for braking and steering
- Take your focus away from the road
All of these behaviors can increase the likelihood of an accident. Even with FMCSA regulations, commercial drivers are more likely to drive drowsy. Without these important laws, drowsy driving could become an even bigger problem.
Keep Yourself Safe
Fortunately, stay-at-home orders are keeping most of us off the roads. Nevertheless, many people have to drive to essential jobs or complete essential tasks behind the wheel. If you need to drive, remember to drive defensively and stay safe near trucks.
We are available 24/7 and here to help when the unthinkable happens.
*Once again, we encourage you to stay safe and healthy. For accurate information on the COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date guidelines, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.