Rising Traffic Fatality Rate Followed Relaxation of Federal Trucking Regulations for COVID-19

Motor vehicle fatality rates have risen sharply in recent months, even as the U.S. economy ground to a halt amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

While it’s hard to pinpoint what’s driving the spike, it’s worth noting that the surge also followed the federal government’s decision to temporarily suspend regulations intended to keep fatigued truckers off the road.

Driver fatigue can cause serious truck accidents, severe injury, and wrongful death. Our Truck Accident Lawyers have a successful record helping the victims of overworked and exhausted truckers obtain the compensation they deserve, earning the Killino Firm nationwide recognition for the aggressive pursuit of justice on behalf of our clients and their families.

Roadway Fatalities Up Significantly in 8 States

According to statistics gathered by the National Safety Council (NSC),  the overall rate of roadway fatalities per total miles driven jumped 14% in March compared to the same month last year, just as most of the nation went into lockdown.

April was even worse, with the fatality rate rising more than 36% over the prior year, even as total miles driven dropped by 40%.

From January through April 2020, eight states experienced significant increases in the rate of roadway fatalities: Arkansas (24%), Connecticut (45%), Illinois (6%), Louisiana (17%), Minnesota (6%), Nevada (7%), North Carolina (7%) and Oklahoma (6%).

“Even without traffic, our roads were no safer,” said NSC President and CEO, Lorraine M. Martin. “It is heartbreaking to see the carnage on our roadways continue, especially when our medical professionals should be able to focus intently on treating a pandemic rather than preventable car crashes.”

The NSC pointed to anecdotal reports that suggested speeding and reckless driving had increased in many parts of the country. They also noted that quarantines had caused some states to adopt “ill-advised roadway tactics,” such as Georgia’s decision allowing teen drivers to acquire their license before passing a roadway test.

Hours of Service Rules Suspended for Trucks Hauling “Essential” Goods

In March, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also temporarily suspended Hours of Service regulations for long-haul truckers transporting essential goods during the pandemic.  While the original exemption was set to expire on June 14th, the agency recently granted an extension for certain hauls, including medical supplies and equipment.

The federal Hours of Service rules aim to prevent fatigue-related crashes by limiting the number of hours truckers and other commercial divers can remain behind the wheel without taking a break. But even with the regulations in place, the FMCSA’s Large Truck Causation Study found that 13% of commercial drivers were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash.

Meanwhile, 24% of truckers responding to a recent survey commissioned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said they “often” continued to drive despite fatigue, bad weather, or heavy traffic. Just under half said they continued doing so “sometimes.”

Because the temporary suspension of the Hours of Service Rules will only encourage more overworked and exhausted truckers to get behind the wheel this year, severe injuries and fatalities linked to fatigue-related crashes are likely to rise as well.

Our Truck Accident Lawyers have extensive experience with cases involving driver fatigue. Our law firm also has the resources and expertise to take on the trucking company attorneys and win. If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-875- 2927.