The coronavirus pandemic has created a significant rise in essential delivery services to businesses and consumers. To meet delivery needs, FMCSA has relaxed hours of service regulations for commercial truckers.
FMCSA Relaxes Trucking Regulations
Under normal conditions, commercial truckers must comply with FMCSA hours of service regulations that restrict driving time and promote safety on the road. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has relaxed driving hours to expedite the delivery of essential goods and services to American businesses and consumers.
FMCSA enforces strict regulations for the U.S. trucking industry to promote driving safety. One of the most important regulations restricts a commercial truck driver from driving more than 11 hours within a 14-hour period without mandated breaks and rest stops. Regulations for hours of service are strictly enforced to prevent driver fatigue, a major problem within the trucking industry that leads to thousands of trucking accidents and fatalities seen by truck accident lawyers every year.
FMCSA’s relaxed hours of service support commercial truckers who are providing COVID-19 relief by providing the following:
- Medical supplies and equipment necessary for diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
- Sanitary supplies and equipment necessary for public health and safety
- Food and grocery essentials for consumers
- Supplies and equipment to build temporary shelters
- Transport of medical doctors, nurses, and technicians
- Transport of emergency medical personnel and first responders
Although FMCSA regulations have been relaxed for hours of service, some restrictions still apply. To prevent driver fatigue and drowsy driving accidents, FMCSA regulations restrict commercial truck drivers to a maximum of 60 hours in one week or 70 hours in eight days. Regulations also require drivers to comply with a minimum of 10 off-duty hours if transporting property, and 8 off-duty hours if transporting passengers, once a delivery is completed.
FMCSA relaxed hours of service only apply to transportation of cargo, personnel, or services that support emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19. They do not apply to commercial truckers or vehicles used for other purposes. They also do not apply to commercial truck drivers or motor carriers who are subject to an out-of-service order due to FMCSA violations, until violations are cleared.
With relaxed FMCSA hours of service, commercial truck drivers will be allowed to drive longer shifts and additional hours. The trucking industry and many truck accident lawyers are concerned that longer hours on the road may lead to a rise in trucking-related injuries and fatalities.