During the pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) changed regulations for the trucking industry. These changes allowed drivers to drive for extended periods and eased the restrictions on trainee drivers. These relaxed regulations aimed to prevent a trucker shortage leading to problems with the supply chain. However, the long-term consequences might affect the safety of passenger car drivers around the country.
According to Regulations.gov, the FMCSA extended the Emergency Declaration for regulatory relief on August 31, 2022. The state of the economy remains uncertain, so it is difficult to predict how long these measures will stay in place.
Who receives regulatory relief?
Regulatory relief for truck drivers only covers commercial vehicles that the government considers necessary for emergency relief efforts. However, this covers a wide range of goods such as food, medical supplies, temporary housing supplies and sanitizers. Relaxing these regulations means qualified drivers may drive more than 11 hours without a break. Previously, rules prevented truckers from going more than 11 hours over a 14-hour work shift.
Are roads more dangerous?
The FMCSA estimates that fatalities in crashes with at least one large truck increased by 13 percent from 2020 to 2021. Time will tell how these rates correlate with the eased regulations for commercial drivers. The first few years in the post-pandemic recovery indicate roadways were less safe for motorists.
There is little you can do about commercial driving regulations. One thing you can control is your safe driving habits. Exercise caution when sharing the road with large cargo trucks, and look for signs of fatigued driving.