• Attorney Israel Garcia

The United States Has Suspended Commercial Truck Drivers Limits to Speed Coronavirus Shipments

U.S. highway-safety regulators are suspending rules that limit daily driving hours for commercial truck drivers moving emergency supplies response to the nationwide coronavirus outbreak.

The Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the nationwide exemption Late Friday, following President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over the pandemic.


While we understand the emergency and the decisions made during these uncertain times to the fullest, FMCSA Administrator Jim Mullen expressed it “will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently”.


The shortage of medical masks, hand sanitizers, and basic necessities has both medical professionals, hospitals, and consumers scrambling for supplies and food. This is the first time FMCSA has suspended nationwide-wide hours-of-service regulations although regional declarations have waived those rules in response to disasters such as hurricanes.


It is important to note that these restrictions are set in place for a reason - intending to reduce accidents caused by highway fatigue, which is a major cause in 18-wheeler fatalities and serious injuries.


The national emergency declaration applies to carriers providing direct assistance to relief efforts tied to the coronavirus pandemic, such as moving medical supplies and equipment to test, diagnose and treat Covid-19. It also applies to those hauling goods to help prevent its spread, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectants.


Drivers transporting “food for emergency restocking of stores” are also covered by the declaration.

It also applies to motor carriers moving medical and emergency services providers, people needed to set up and manage temporary housing and quarantine facilities, and people being moved for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes, the agency said.


What does that mean for the safety of the people who share the roads with these commercial trucks? It may be too early to tell, but what we do know is that the Hours of Service Regulations for Truck drivers was meant to protect all parties from negligent or needless catastrophic accidents due to fatigued truckers. Truck drivers are under extreme pressure, especially in these worsening times, and are expected to fulfill the increasing demand while delivering on-time.


What Are the Hours of Service Regulations For 18-Wheeler Operators?

The hours of service regulations are the federal mandated guidelines regarding how long a trucker driver can be on the road. The 2017 updates are in part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These rules apply to commercial on-the-road trucks and semis with trailers that are involved in interstate commerce, which involves transporting of goods across state lines. Truck operators who don't transport goods outside a certain state are involved in intrastate commerce, and must comply with state laws regarding the number of driving hours allowed.


14-hour work limit

During a 14-hour consecutive period, a trucker is only allowed to drive for a maximum of 11 hours if he's fresh off the road for at least 10 consecutive hours. As soon as a trucker goes on road, this 14-hour time limit begins running. Breaks for food and naps are included in this time period. Once the trucker has completed a 14-hour workday, he must rest for 10 hours or longer before driving or doing any other job-related duties.


11-hour driving rule

As discussed above, a trucker is only permitted to drive 11 hours in a 14-hour workday. Once he or she reaches this driving maximum, other off-road duties can be completed up to the 14 hours of planned work. A trucker isn't permitted to drive again until he or she has a full 10 consecutive hours off work.


Questions? We Are To Help Answer Your Personal Injury Concerns Related to the Most Recent Coronavirus Mandates.


As always your safety and health is the number one concern for Attorney Israel Garcia and his personal injury team. Don’t hesitate to call the Law Office of Israel Garcia at (210) LAW-9999 to schedule a free consultation. Your road to a healthy recovery should be your main focus. If it is important to you and your family, it is important to us.

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