Is there a link between COVID-19 and an increase in truck accidents?
COVID-19 restrictions have been loosening in Omaha and some parts of the United States. While the pandemic will be with us for a while, the demand for both essential and non-essential items has only increased.
Large commercial trucks are still an essential part of our economy. We rely on them to deliver items to nearby retail stores, grocery stores, home improvement stores and hospitals.
Relaxed hours-of-service rules & drowsy driving risks
In March of 2020, the federal hours-of-service regulations that limit driving time to 11 hours per 14-hour shift were loosened for certain drivers. These included drivers who were responsible for delivering essential items, such as food, masks, sanitary items and medical supplies.
In September of 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will implement new hours-of-service rules, which are intended to provide flexibility to truck drivers during the pandemic. These changes include:
- On-duty limits for short-haul operations will increase:
- From 12 to 14 hours
- From 100 air-miles to 150.
- Driving time limits will be increased by two hours when drivers encounter hazardous weather conditions, under the condition of the driver's knowledge of such conditions after dispatch.
- Drivers will be allowed a split-sleeper option of 7/3 (in addition to 10/0 and 8/2), which doesn't count against the 14-hour shift.
- A 30-minute break will be required after 8 driving hours. An on-duty/not driving period will qualify as the required break.
While these relaxed regulations could lessen the stress of delivering goods and services, more time spent on the road could lead to an increase in drowsy driving. In fact, drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of truck crashes. Many drowsy driving truck crashes happen at full speed, since drivers make no attempt to stop.
Other truck accident risks linked to COVID-19
We could see an increase in truck crashes during this time for the following reasons:
- Trucking companies hiring too fast: Trucking companies need to hire more drivers to keep up with the demands. Some companies may hire drivers with little experience, poor driving records or who lack a commercial driver's license, or CDL.
- Increased demand could lead to speeding. When truck drivers have little time to make more deliveries than usual, they may feel urged to exceed the speed limit or drive aggressively.
- Trucks may not be in proper working order. When large commercial trucks are not properly cared for or inspected, mechanical failures often lead to devastating accidents. This often occurs when a wheel comes loose, the brakes fail or a tire blowout occurs.
Your legal options after a truck accident
If you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident, you have the right to pursue legal damages from the trucking company and its insurer. You should never try to handle your claim on your own, however. Truck accident claims are often highly complex and require the help of a strong legal advocate who knows how to deal with trucking companies and insurance companies.
The Omaha truck accident attorneys at Ausman Law Firm P.C., L.L.O. understand the tricks trucking companies use to cover up wrongdoing. We also know the tricks the insurance companies use to avoid paying for your damages to the fullest extent. You can count on our legal team to investigate your accident and fight for a fair settlement on your behalf.
Contact us online to schedule your free and confidential legal consultation.