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FMCSA Relaxes Hours of Service Rules to Deal with Covid-19 Trucking Needs

The recent times have been unprecedented in our country.  Preparations from medical to supply chain are being made across the country to meet the needs and demands of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To aid in delivering goods and supplies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to relax some of the Hours–of–Service regulations that truck drivers are required to adhere to, in order to meet the increased shipping needs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes, masks and other medical essentials are all in short supply in many states across the country. Panic buying, which has been seen across the country since it became clear that the Covid-19 virus outbreak would be more serious than we believed, has meant many empty shelves at supermarkets and stores across the country. People are running short of basic essentials, including even food items in many areas.

In order to deal with the extraordinary shipping and trucking demands of these uncertain times, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has relaxed some of the rules that govern a truck driver’s working hours. The agency has decided to grant drivers exemption from Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  These rules specifically relate to the number of hours that a driver can be at the wheel, while operating a large truck or tractor trailer.

The waiver applies to truck drivers who are hauling medical supplies, testing equipment, as well as masks and gloves. Trucks that are hauling food items will also be included in the relaxation of rules.  Trucks that are involved in the transport of people to quarantine facilities or temporary housing facilities, as well as providers of medical and emergency personnel and services, are also included in the waiver.

The waiver does not limit the number of hours a driver can work, but does require a driver to have at least 10 hours off duty if he is hauling property, or 8 hours if he is transporting personnel. Once a person has completed his special Covid-19-related duties and needs to return to the base with an empty truck, he is free to do so without being in violation of his duties. The relaxed rules will apply to trucking companies across the country.

These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures, but these waivers are not unheard of. There have been past cases in which the agency has relaxed these rules, as in the case of natural disasters like hurricanes.

We hope that this emergency can be dealt with, and the pandemic contained quickly without more pressure on truck drivers. Driver fatigue can be a major factor in accidents.   Hopefully, since citizens have been urged to stay home during these times, there will be less drivers on the road and in turn fewer risks of accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, talk to an Atlanta truck accident lawyer at the Katz Law Firm, and discuss your chances for legal compensation for damages. You may eligible for compensation for medical expenses, lost income, potential future earnings as well as other types of damages.

The Atlanta truck accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm are dedicated to the representation of persons who have been injured in truck, tractor trailer or 18- wheeler accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.