Our Queens Trucking Accident Lawyers Explain Coronavirus Trucking Changes Including Rule Changes from the FMCSA
The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has infected over half a million people worldwide. More people in the United States than any other country, even China, have become infected. New York, particularly New York City, Long Island, and Westchester have been particularly impacted. There are many emergency efforts in place to help protect people, including providing emergency medical supplies, emergency food restocking, and increasing emergency workforce. This places increased pressure on the trucking industry which is deputized to deliver most of these goods. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced some coronavirus trucking changes to relax some hours of service rules related to coronavirus relief efforts.
Here at Cohen & Cohen Law Group, P.C., we are sincerely appreciative of all our nation’s heroes fighting the coronavirus, such as healthcare providers, first responders, the National Guard, truck drivers, food store employees, and everyone else battling this virus. Our law offices remain open and we are still fighting just as hard to protect our clients’ rights after a serious personal injury accident, including trucking accidents. We hope these relaxed regulations help the battle against this virus without increasing the risks of danger for others on the roads. HOS regulations are in place to protect the safety of motorists.
What are Hours of Service Regulations?
Hours of service regulations, also known as HOS rules, are enacted by the FMCSA to protect truck drivers and trucking companies from operating large and dangerous commercial vehicles while fatigued or deprived of sleep. The rules are essentially safety rules aimed to protect public health from truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel. These rules were necessary because many truck drivers and trucking companies would work as long as possible because the more deliveries they made the more times they could get paid. But on extreme sleep deprivation, this could be incredibly dangerous and result in very serious Queens trucking accidents
There are many hours of service regulations that are important. The most basic one that the FMCSA has suspended relates to on-shift and off-shift hours. The rule is that truck drivers may only have a maximum of 14 hours “on shift” followed by a consecutive 10 hours “off shift.”
What are the Suspended HOS Rules?
However, the FMCSA has suspended the maximum 14 hours on shift to allow truck drivers to complete deliveries related to the coronavirus relief. Such “essential” emergency relief must be one of the following:
- Medical supplies and equipment related to COVID-19 testing, diagnosis, and treatment
- Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient, and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in the community
- Food store relief including equipment, supplies, and food for the restocking of stores
- Transportation of persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19
- Persons designated by federal, state, or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes, and
- Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.
Any truck driver or bus driver engaged in these enterprises may drive longer than allowed under the HOS rules, as long as it is still safe to do so. Truck drivers who need a break or rest must take one and receive one. Truck drivers are even allowed to make a delivery and then drive back to their port to drop off the empty truck before starting again, even if the HOS rules are not complied with.
It is important to note that other commercial truck drivers that are not shipping these goods or transporting people for COVID-19 cannot violate the HOS rules. These exemptions only apply to truck drivers actively working towards COVID-19 relief.
Concerns With any HOS Non-Compliance
Whether or not the HOS regulations are in effect, these regulations are more than just arbitrary rules—they are important safety rules, best practices, and even common sense. While the COVID-19 is ravaging many parts of the country including the tri-state area, we hope that fatigued and dangerously tired truck drivers will still take the appropriate rest breaks and stops to protect their own health and the health of others on the roads. While the roads are certainly less congested due to the coronavirus and essential business being closed down, the people that are on the roads are likely healthcare workers, first responders, and other heroes that we need during this time.
If a truck driver still operates an essential delivery vehicle and causes a Queens trucking accident, he or she may still be liable for the collision. This is because, while the FMCSA rules may be relaxed, New York law still prohibits motorists from operating a motor vehicle while fatigued. This means that a truck driver who falls asleep at the wheel may still be liable for a crash.
Injured by a Truck Driver in New York? Ask Our Queens Trucking Accident Lawyers for Help
If you or a loved one were seriously injured or if a loved one was wrongfully killed by a truck driver, get our experienced Queens trucking lawyers at Cohen & Cohen Law Group, P.C. on your side. We do not require any money upfront and only get paid once you get paid. Ask for a FREE consultation by dialing 800-247-8164. You may also use our convenient and easy-to-use contact us box available here to securely communicate with our firm. We are here for you through everything, including a pandemic and serious personal injury accident. Call us today to learn what we can do for you and our family.