Fatigue among semi-truck drivers has long been acknowledged to be a problem and poses a serious risk to the public. Concerns about trucker fatigue led the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to develop what is called the Hours of Service rule. This rule caps the number of hours a trucker may work and drive in a single day and in a single work week. The rule goes on to identify how long daily breaks should last and when they should happen. It also stipulates how long a driver must be off duty after completing one work week and before starting the next.
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to plague more and more individuals and communities, the need for emergency services, goods, and workers also grows. Commercial truckers may be seen as able to help provide relief by transporting essential materials or personnel. As such, The Trucker reports that some states took the initiative to lift the Hours of Service rule for these truckers and, now, the federal government has followed suit to make the easing of restrictions nationwide.
For possibly as long as one month and maybe even longer, drivers carrying products to be used to provide medical treatment, infection containment by health care workers, virus testing and more will not be subject to the Hours of Service rule. This, however, does not mean that truckers have no responsibility to operate their vehicles responsibly.
Drivers may indicate a desire to take a break rather than drive an extended number of hours. If they make this request, they must be off duty for a set number of hours before resuming work.