The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the health and safety of most people in the United States. Fortunately, many people have been able to avoid becoming infected by following safety guidelines, including wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing. However, there are other ways outside of infections that the pandemic can threaten people’s safety. One issue that has not received a great deal of attention is the possibility of truck accidents, which may occur due to truck drivers spending more time on the road, increasing the chances that they will be too tired to drive safely.
Hours of Service Regulations and Truck Driver Fatigue
As people have remained in their homes throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the number of products ordered through online retailers has increased significantly, and people expect the goods they order to be delivered quickly. This has required trucking companies to increase their operations and ship more goods at a faster rate. However, trucking industry insiders have noted that there is a shortage in the number of drivers who are licensed to operate semi-trailer trucks. This means that fewer drivers are expected to deliver more goods more quickly, increasing the likelihood that drivers will become fatigued.
The issue of driver fatigue may be compounded by relaxed regulations regarding the hours of service that truck drivers are allowed to spend on the road. In 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made some changes to allow some drivers to spend increased time behind the wheel while requiring fewer breaks. It has also granted exemptions to the hours of service regulations for drivers who are providing direct support of emergency relief efforts, including delivering vaccines and medical supplies used to diagnose and treat COVID-19, gloves, masks, and sanitation supplies meant to prevent the spread of infections, and groceries or other products needed for the emergency restocking of stores or distribution centers.
Even if truck drivers are spending more time on the road for necessary purposes, these increased hours make it more likely that they will suffer from fatigue and drowsiness while behind the wheel. This can be very dangerous, since nodding off for even a second or two may cause a driver to collide with other vehicles, pedestrians, or objects near the road. These collisions are likely to lead to serious injuries due to the large size and weight of commercial trucks.
It is important to note that the relaxed regulations adopted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration do not excuse the responsibility of drivers and the trucking companies for crashes caused by their negligent acts.
Contact Our Appleton Truck Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a collision with a semi-truck, the lawyers of Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. can help you obtain evidence to show that the accident was caused by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company. This evidence may include truck driver logs and records, as well as footage from security cameras, recordings of 911 calls, and testimony from witnesses to the crash. We will work to hold the negligent parties responsible and ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries. Contact our Green Bay commercial truck accident attorneys today at 920-739-7366 to schedule a complimentary consultation.