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As the coronavirus threatens to disrupt the national supply chain, truckers keep our communities safe by stocking the supplies we need. This is an invaluable service, and we are very grateful to the drivers working for our health and comfort.
Unfortunately, our country’s pressing needs are forcing truck drivers to work in unimaginable circumstances. Sometimes, mistakes happen; and some trucking companies are pushing honest drivers into bending the rules. In this article, we’ll discuss the challenges of trucking during the coronavirus epidemic, the potential dangers to themselves and others on the road, and what crash victims can do after an accident.
The trucking industry is in a unique position during this pandemic. As more people stay home, many of us are relying on websites like Walmart and Amazon. Truckers are working hard to bring personal protective equipment (PPE) and essentials like toilet paper, disinfectant, and fresh food to our grocery stores, hospitals, and other essential businesses. The trucks hauling them are staying busy, to say the least. They’re also trying to remain profitable after a tough start to 2020.
For the truckers themselves, this means not only increased chance of exposure to the virus at pick-ups and drop-offs, but operating without their usual support systems and under different regulations. According to an April 2020 survey by Change to Win, a national labor coalition, about 70% of truckers reported dangerous working conditions during the COVID-19 crisis.
Many restaurants and truck stops are closed, forcing drivers to make food and coffee in their trucks. In several states, rest stops have closed down, leaving fewer options for bathrooms and places to park and sleep. Some truckers fear for their safety when they make a stop, due to increased demand.
Further, loosened regulations around rest requirements, for those delivering essential supplies, mean their employers can push them a little more than usual. It’s the first time in more than 80 years that the federal government has loosened any of these “hours of service” rules.
Truck drivers are keeping this country going, and those of us sheltering in our homes would be far less comfortable without them. It’s important to recognize the risks to truckers and other motorists under these circumstances.
The vast majority of truck drivers are highly qualified and able to adapt to varying road conditions while observing the strictest safety measures. Still, trucking in coronavirus conditions puts these drivers and the motorists around them at a higher risk of a wreck.
For example, many states have loosened rules weight restrictions for certain trucks. While trucks historically have maxed out at 80,000 pounds, states like Mississippi are permitting ultra-heavy, 90,000-pound, five-axle big rigs on its roads. These huge, “monster” trucks are harder to maneuver and require much longer stopping distances. While the immediate need for supplies is undeniable, add together heavier truckloads, longer drive times, and the stress of not having the usual stops for food and rest, and you have significantly increased the potential for truck-related traffic crashes.
Additionally, the long-haul truck driver shortage, which existed well before the coronavirus appeared, means that fewer truckers are doing all the driving right now. More concerning is the fact that some trucking companies may have rushed drivers into big rigs without the absolute best training to keep up with demand.
Now more than ever, proper training and observance of safety procedures are vital. A truck wreck during the coronavirus outbreak has a profound impact: people are injured, essential products are delayed, and our hospitals are even more overburdened.
If you are the victim of a crash caused by an irresponsible driver, commercial trucker or otherwise, follow these steps for what to do next.
Don’t delay calling a truck accident lawyer. Your attorney will need to act quickly to preserve the truck’s logbooks, black box data, and company records that may prove that a driver or company acted irresponsibly. If you wait too long, these records may be destroyed.
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we support our nation’s truckers and place a high value on their safety. That’s why we aggressively go after negligent drivers, whether they’re behind the wheel of a big truck or a sub-compact car.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car or truck accident, contact Andy Citrin’s team for resources, help, and a free case evaluation. We care deeply for the communities we serve, and are ready to represent you and work hard to secure the compensation you deserve.
Emergency Declaration Under 49 CFR §390.23 No. 2020-002. (2020, March 13). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002
Hennessy-Fiske, M. (2020, April 28). On the open road, U.S. truck drivers face the coronavirus and new risks. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-04-28/u-s-truck-drivers-face-coronavirus-new-risks-on-open-road
Lamb, E. (2020, March 20). States suspend weight limits for trucks involved in coronavirus relief. Transport Topics. Retrieved from https://www.ttnews.com/articles/states-suspend-weight-limits-trucks-involved-coronavirus-relief
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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