In short, yes. The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily changed the laws and regulations surrounding commercial truckers. The silver lining is that there hasn’t seemed to be a huge increase in trucking accidents on a larger scale. But how have these regulations changed, and is it possible that these changes may be permanent? While the trucking industry as a whole and much of the product supply chain may go through months of changes due to COVID-19, here is some explanation from our Atlanta truck accident attorneys of what you may have seen or experienced in the road lately.
Hours of Service Expanded for National Emergency Declaration
The hours of service element of the CDL driver is something very concerned as it allows them to create an ebb and flow that allows for far more working hours in a week than other American’s experience. However, those hours of service were expanded as par to the National Emergency Declaration with the goal of getting essential supplies to the people that need them.
In short, you wouldn’t expect your Target drivers to work more hours during this time. However, you should have expected drivers transporting face masks and food to work longer hours through the declaration of emergency.
Guidance on Cross-Border Transportation and COVID-19
The FMCSA, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, has implemented a three-month waiver for drivers who only had learning permits. Because of the extreme labor shortage in the trucking industry, it was vital that the FMCSA get more drivers on the road right away. As they implemented this waiver, it was put into place with the idea that, yes, these drivers are still learning, but they’ve gone through enough training to drive independently or as part of a team.
Part of the push for this change was the cross-state transportation in that state’s usually have some slight variances in obtaining permits and working on a learner’s permit. This waiver established that on a national level, the individual state’s laws governing learner’s permits roles in transportation didn’t matter for this three month period. It grants drivers with a CDL learner’s permit to work and transport goods both inter-state and intra-state.
Guide for Essential Workers and Handling Local Shelter in Place
The overall guidelines were that essential workers weren’t required to shelter in place if it was for work or other essential duties such as grocery shopping. Truckers were definitely considered among the essential workers, and as part of that, they had quite a bit of license. It was one of the major shifts in viewing truckers as they often were overlooked as a nuisance on the road.
However, one struggle that they faced on the road during the shelter in place orders was that locals who were out were speeding and engaging in other high-risk driving behavior. Many of the accidents seen throughout Georgia during the quarantine were a result of non-truckers engaging in excessive speeding or distracted driving.
What Does This Mean for Driver Safety?
Generally, for safety, the biggest concern is the high volume of drivers who only have a learning permit. That time frame for them to learn how to drive these trucks is critical. These are massive vehicles that require expert skill in backing up, parking, and then everyday driving tasks such as changing lanes. Additionally, new truckers or those on their learner’s permits aren’t accustomed to road hypnosis or fighting to stay awake and drive for an eight-hour stretch.
However, in all other regards to safety, it doesn’t seem as though the extension for the hours of service greatly impacted experienced truckers. They were able to adapt, and many understood that they were driving more hours in the effort to get hospitals and grocery stores necessary wares.
When Should You Reach Out to John B. Jackson for an Atlanta Crash Attorney?
Atlanta, GA, is one of the major hubs too much of America’s transportation system. We see tens of thousands of trucks come through Atlanta in just a few days. So it’s no surprise that Atlanta residents are among the most concerned when it comes to changes in transportation safety guidelines.
Truckers do have strict rules they need to follow, and after a crash, the only person that can push for a real investigation is you. Whether or not the trucker was following traditional rules or these recent changes, you can be certain that insurance companies won’t get into the specifics. In fact, if you want a real investigation with a clear decision on fault, then you probably sold consider hiring a truck accident attorney in Atlanta.