Ensuring Safety While Work Rules Are Suspended


In this series, we focused on how the commercial transportation industry continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we’ve covered the importance of clear, consistent, and effective communication between fleet safety managers and drivers; how to eliminate visual, physical, and cognitive distractions for drivers inside the cab; and we described how advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) can work for the fleet—helping drivers and safety managers increase awareness of surroundings and driver habits while less cars are on the road. As we continue to navigate this new reality, fleets should continue to prioritize safety, even though new regulations and work rules may be suspended.


The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the federal government to temporarily suspend a trucking safety law that has been in place since 1938 and regulates the number hours a driver may work without rest breaks. The FMCSA announced those drivers who are moving goods “in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks” temporarily do not have to follow the hours-of-service laws. This suspension, which doesn’t apply to fuel transports, keeps getting extended as the pandemic rolls on.

While it is common for states and local governments to waive HOS rules during natural disasters, allowing consumers to easily stock up on household goods and hospitals to secure necessary medical supplies, this is the first time the rule has been suspended on a nationwide level since it was established.

But even with the HOS rule suspension, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of drivers’ hours and ensure fatigue isn’t a factor contributing to unsafe driving behavior. Fleets should have an electronic logging device (ELD) that is self-certified and registered with the FMCSA. By focusing on a compliance solution that takes advantage of single-box architecture and a unified data stream, fleets eliminate redundancy across data, devices, and connectivity and experience the true power of technology convergence.


With changes in schedules, routes, and loads, it’s also important to accurately track the location and status of fleet vehicles. Powerful telematics capabilities available as part of the best ELDs include tracking, geofencing, historical trip data, and custom rules and alerting. With easily stored trip history information, fleets can recreate any driver’s trips at any time and for any date specified. This includes in-depth views for various events, such as time spent at the office, on the road, and at customer locations. What’s more, fleets have access to a summarized view of every drivers’ trip information, including fleet performance metrics like most, least, and highest idle driven asset. With fewer people working at locations to accept deliveries, it’s important to know when a delivery was made, while ensuring it was made to the right location.

Just because work rules have been suspended, safety has not. Fleets must continue to take every precaution necessary to ensure drivers remain safe during this unprecedented time.


To gain more insights on communication and coaching, download the eBook, “Coach Your Drivers to Safety and Success,” from SmartDrive. It can help make coaching part of your safety culture, measure your coaching effectiveness, provide advanced analytics for coaching, and more. Find out more, visit

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