Feds Suspend Large Truck Safety Rules
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will not enforce some hours of service restrictions, the agency announced.
Additionally, the agency expanded the list of exempted “emergency supplies” to include items like raw materials and fuel. The agency also will not enforce recordkeeping requirements during the pandemic. Other changes include fewer restrictions on weight limits and possible acceptance of expired medical fitness cards.
“The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain,” declared U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
Drowsy Truck Drivers
Fatigued driving is part of truck driving. Most transportation and shipping companies pay drivers by the load and not by the mile. As a result, drivers must stay on the road for as long as possible, and deliver their loads as quickly as possible, in order to make money.
There’s more to the issue than gross hours driven. Many truckers are behind the wheel early in the morning or late at night. Most people are naturally drowsy at these times, especially if they recently changed schedules.
The time behind the wheel is not the only problem. Because they sit for long periods of time, many truckers develop sleep apnea. People with this condition basically nap all night. They never get deep, restorative sleep. So, they are frequently tired, no matter how much rest they got the night before.
The FMCSA’s HOS (Hours of Service) rules are designed to decrease drowsy driving risks. These rules include driving caps and mandatory rest periods. But the FMCSA has not just agreed to look the other way. Bureaucrats actively encouraged truckers to drive as long and as far as possible.
Fatigue and alcohol have roughly the same effect on the brain and body. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial drivers in Florida.
Evidence in Drowsy Truck Driver Claims
Proof is critical in truck crash claims. Port St. Lucie personal injury attorneys must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Although it temporarily suspended some key HOS rules, the FMCSA still maintains a database which details prior HOS compliance. These Safety Maintenance System records are usually admissible in court.
Other evidence of drowsy driving includes the Electronic Logging Device. The trucking industry fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court, but it finally took effect in the spring of 2019. Now that an initial compliance grace period has passed, almost all trucks have ELDs attached to their drivetrains.
These gadgets measure and record HOS information. Assuming the computer was working properly, this evidence is nearly always admissible in court. And, tech-savvy Treasure Coast jurors usually respond very well to electronic evidence.
Circumstantial evidence of drowsy driving includes erratic driving prior to the crash and statements the tortfeasor (negligent driver) made to first responders. You’d be surprised at the things people voluntarily tell police officers.
Contact a Hard-Hitting Lawyer
Drowsy truck drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.