Extended Hours for Truckers Will Continue Until September: Good News for Foodies, Bad News for Drivers Who Share the Road with Trucks
Unless you are a supermarket employee or a longtime practitioner of extreme couponing, you probably never thought much about what is in stock at the supermarket shelves until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now that there is nothing to do but go to the supermarket or sit at home and daydream about going to the supermarket, the pandemic is bringing out the wannabe chef in everyone, as well as increasing our cravings for our favorite comforting snacks. On Monday, you go to the supermarket and find out that someone has bought the last bag of chicken flavored ramen noodles from the shelves. You go back on Tuesday and Wednesday, but still your favorite ramen flavor is nowhere to be found. Even though the days of panic buying toilet paper have passed, shortages of popular grocery items continue. This month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association announced that it will extend the time when truckers can exceed the number of hours per week that national regulations allow them to work, with waivers being available until September 14. This means that foods will reach supermarket shelves faster, but sleep-deprived truckers mean an increased risk of truck accidents. Contact a South Carolina truck accident lawyer if you were injured in a truck accident during or shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic.
What the Hours-of-Service Waiver Means for Truckers, Shoppers, and Everyone Else on the Road
In general, truck drivers must follow strict rules about mandatory rest periods. These regulations determine how often they must take breaks during a shift, how long those breaks must last, how many hours they may work in a 24-hour period, how long they must rest between shifts, and how many shifts they may work in a week. While these regulations ensure that drivers get adequate rest to enable them to drive safely, they extend the amount of time it takes drivers to complete long trips.
In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Transportation began issuing waivers that would allow truckers to drive more hours per day and per week than the current hours-of-service regulations permit. Originally, the waivers were only for truckers transporting personal protective equipment, medicines, and other supplies deemed essential for slowing the spread of COVID-19. As supply shortages began to plague retail grocery stores, the National Grocers Association, whose members include independent wholesalers and retailers of food, asked the DOT to make waivers available for truckers bringing merchandise to grocery stores. In July, the DOT also began issuing waivers to truck drivers transporting grocery items and paper products; these waivers will be available until September 14, meaning that the DOT will decide whether to extend the waiver program again and will decide the details of that extension. Until next month, you can get your hopes up about finding your favorite flavor of Crystal Light, but you should also be extra cautious when driving, because the truck drivers working to stock the shelves of your local supermarket may not be as well-rested as usual.
Let Us Help You Today
It is important for truckers to transport food and essential supplies efficiently during the COVID-19 pandemic, but if you have been injured in an accident with a sleep-deprived trucker, you need a truck accident lawyer. Contact the Columbia car accident lawyers at The Stanley Law Group for more information.