MoDOT exemptions make sense during pandemic

Temporary exemptions for truck drivers have been made by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and Gov. Mike Parson as the nation grapples with the effects to commerce of the coronavirus.

MoDOT increased the weight allowance for tractor-trailers of at least 53 feet from 80,000 to 100,000 pounds through April 30. The increase doesn’t apply to all trailers, but according to a story by Jeff Long in the Southeast Missourian it does apply to supplies and equipment related to COVID-19.

Gov. Parson also suspended the cap on hours a driver can spend behind the wheel. This change is valid through May 15. Previously, drivers had a 14-hour limit before a 10-hour break was required. However, that doesn’t mean a driver was necessarily driving for 14 hours. For example, a driver could wait for six hours while a trailer was unloaded, but that time is counted toward the 14-hour max.

Truck drivers play a key role in keeping stores stocked with the goods customers need, and this service is particularly important during the current pandemic. Drivers must continue to use good judgment for their own safety and that of those around them. If tired, stop. But professional drivers should be able to make these decisions.

While exemptions should be reconsidered once the pandemic subsides, allowing temporary exemptions makes sense. We applaud MoDOT and Gov. Parson for taking action.