COVID19 Waiver of CDL Rules May Increase Risk of Truck Accidents in Arkansas - Elliott & Smith Law Firm

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Mar 27

COVID19 Waiver of CDL Rules May Increase Risk of Truck Accidents in Arkansas


As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact industry sectors across the globe, one market sector is finding itself to be essential as other workers shelter in place.

Holders of Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) in Arkansas and other US states continue to work at a frenzied pace to keep up with the demand for necessary consumer goods, such as medicines, meats, fresh produce, canned goods, paper products, and more.

To ensure the flow of products can reach households without delays in transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced some temporary changes in the licensing process.

As of March 24, 2020, FMCSA is waiving the application of certain regulations regarding expired CDLs and/or medical cards. The grant of waiver means that many operators of semis, box trucks, 18-wheelers, and other commercial vehicles can continue to work regardless of the fact that their credentials would not be accepted under non-emergency circumstances.

As an attorney focusing on truck accidents, J. Timothy Smith of the Elliott & Smith Law Firm in Fayetteville, AR, weighed in on the waiver of CDL requirements.

“I understand the urgent need for this move by the FMCSA. The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all. However, I have concerns about how the waiver might increase the risk of truck accidents on Arkansas highways.”

In sum, the FMCSA “Notice of Enforcement Policy” and “Waiver” allows many truck drivers to continue working without fear of sanctions.

If a learners’ permit, CDL, or Medical Certificate is expired, there will be no enforcement efforts as long as credentials were current as of March 1, 2020.

Mr. Smith issued a caution in light of the development.

“This doesn’t give truck operators carte blanche from legal requirements on a permanent basis. The waiver doesn’t absolve drivers, their employers, trucking companies, and other potential parties from liability. It simply means that they won’t get fines or CDL suspensions from operating their vehicles. In the event of an accident, victims still have the same legal rights that apply for all truck crashes.”

Under Arkansas law, a person who is injured by a negligent truck operator can recover damages for a wide range of losses. Regardless of whether the misconduct is linked to CDL regulations or other issues, victims can obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. There are also legal options for surviving family members who lose a loved one in a truck accident, through an Arkansas wrongful death claim.

Contact Elliott and Smith to discuss your case.