How Has COVID-19 Affected the Trucking Industry and Driver Safety?
As coronavirus hit the United States in early March, many workers found themselves sent home to work for a period of time. Working remotely works well for many job positions, especially those who are solely reliant on their computer to get things done. However, a number of occupations and employees were deemed “essential” and required to continue working during these unprecedented times. Commercial trucking is an integral part of our society, and thus, these men and women were not given the same flexibility as many others.
In fact, stay-at-home orders and fears of catching COVID-19 have led many people to rely on online shopping throughout the pandemic. With an increase in online orders, commercial truck drivers have been working overtime to meet their demand, leading to dangerously drowsy drivers who are prone to causing truck accidents with injuries on the road.
Despite Fewer Cars, Accidents on the Rise
Shocking statistics from the National Safety Council (NSC) unveil an increase in fatal accidents in the beginning months of this year in spite of a reduced number of drivers traversing U.S. roadways. Taking a broad look at the country as a whole, fatality rates increased by 14 percent when comparing March 2019 to March 2020. Tennessee is one of the contributing states, with a 6 percent increase in traffic deaths in the first few months of the year. The NSC attributes this spike in roadway deaths to drivers’ tendencies to drive more recklessly with fewer cars on the road. This includes speeding and ignoring traffic signals that they would otherwise adhere to if roads were full. Data has not shown that this issue is occurring within the commercial trucking community; however, truck drivers have their own dangers that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19’s Impact on the Trucking Industry
There are a number of ways that this global pandemic has left its mark on the commercial trucking industry. Some people are predicting that these adjustments will stay in place even after the storm. A few of these changes have been beneficial to the industry and its employees, such as an increase in hygiene measures. However, with an increase in demand from consumers comes an increase in demand for employees. As the pandemic began to take its toll in March, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) temporarily waived working hour limits that are typically set in place. These regulations exist to avoid drowsy, overworked employees navigating busy U.S. highways. When drivers are pushed past their limits, they become fatigued, which can directly lead to a collision. Even though these working hour limits are no longer waived, there may still be truck drivers working overtime to meet their demands and make ends meet. As stay-at-home orders begin to lift and more drivers return to the roads, it is more critical than ever for truck drivers to be more vigilant of rusty drivers and their own sense of drowsiness.
Contact a Chattanooga Truck Accident Lawyer
Accidents involving large trucks are always more severe due to the sheer size difference between commercial trucks and motor vehicles. Overworked, exhausted truck drivers only increase the possibility of a highway drive turning into a tragedy. If you have been involved in a trucking accident, you may be facing lifelong injuries that alter your quality of life. Anyone who has been hit by another vehicle should seek immediate legal counsel for help securing compensation. At Warren & Griffin, P.C., our legal team proudly represents those who have been injured in an accident and need assistance with their personal injury claim. If you or your loved one has been hurt in a large trucking accident, contact our Tennessee personal injury attorneys today at 423-265-4878 to schedule a private consultation.