Can a Semi Driver Be on the Road If They Have COVID?
The short answer? No, the driver shouldn’t. That’s because truck drivers must be physically and mentally fit to drive a big rig on Georgia roads. If they’re sick with the coronavirus, they’re in no condition to be driving an 18-wheeler with a loaded trailer that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
Like any other illness, a semi driver must comply with COVID-19 protocols and guidelines from the Georgia Department of Public Health. If a truck driver is exposed to the coronavirus, he or she must monitor their health for 14 days from their last possible exposure to COVID-19. This includes quarantine. A person can test out of quarantine any day after seven full days have passed with a negative coronavirus test result.
However, a semi driver’s negligence may be shown more easily if he or she is on the road in violation of Georgia’s quarantine rules and causes an accident.
If a trucker has COVID, they may experience any of these or other symptoms:
- Fever or chills;
- Muscle or body aches;
- New loss of taste or smell;
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
- Congestion or runny nose;
- Sore throat;
- Nausea or vomiting; and
That should be a warning to get off the road and quarantine. If a semi driver is showing any of the following signs, they should seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Failure to do so may cause an accident. A truck driver is prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle unless he or she is physically qualified to do so. The driver must have the perceptual skills to monitor some complex driving situations; the judgment skills to make quick decisions; along with the manipulative skills to control an oversize rig and maneuver it in crowded areas. If he or she is suffering from COVID-19, they shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Typically, if the semi driver knew or should have known about their COVID-19 diagnosis, he or she will be responsible for any injuries that resulted from an accident.
In addition, if the driver’s employer was aware of the driver’s COVID-19 diagnosis and required him or her to drive, the trucking company may also be liable for the accident. Moreover, the trucking company may be responsible if it failed to provide the necessary COVID precautions, such as telemedicine service for truckers on the road who think they may have been infected and providing drivers with personal protective equipment (PPE) to help protect them from COVID-19.
Are Semi Drivers More At Risk For Contracting COVID?
Yes. Truck drivers can have trouble staying healthy because they’re usually sitting for extended periods of time behind the wheel, they don’t get enough quality sleep, and a diet of truck-stop meals usually isn’t very health-conscious.
Plus, some semi drivers are more at risk for contracting COVID because of their age or underlying health conditions. The two biggest reasons that drivers fail their physical for commercial driver fitness determination from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
If a truck driver has one condition—no matter the type—it increases his or her risk of an accident. However, research shows that when a driver suffers from three or four medical issues, it’s much worse. Big rig drivers who have at least three health issues can be as much as four times the crash risk of healthier drivers.
Truck drivers and their employers in Georgia have a responsibility to comply with COVID-19 protocols and guidelines from the Department of Public Health, including quarantining if exposed.
In a semi driver causes a car wreck, his or her negligence may be more easier to prove if he or she is on the road in violation of Georgia’s quarantine rules or is suffering symptoms of COVID-19 and does nothing to get treatment.
Contact An Experienced Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi, work with an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney. Contact Tobin Injury Law, and we’ll work to get you the compensation you deserve. With our experience and skills, we know what to look for when suing a trucking company and what’s required for a driver to be behind the wheel, including COVID-19 issues.
You can contact an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 404-JUSTICE (404-587-8423) or by using our online contact form.
Tobin Injury Law offers free consultations and will be glad to answer your questions.