While many states have issued stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 outbreak, they have also allowed essential industries that keep America going to continue their business. Few American businesses are more important than the trucking industry.
Truckers are keeping the supply of goods flowing to each state and helping us all stay safe at home.
Let’s take a look at how trucking companies are making a difference during these tough times
Supply Chain Challenges
As America battles the deadly COVID-19 pandemic supply chains have been disrupted. Emergency medical supplies must be transported from manufacturers to hospitals. And materials like paper, plastic, and alcohol need to be shipped to the factory.
Supermarket shelves need to be restocked and some office buildings have cut off their regular shipments due to shelter in place orders. And everyone everywhere is looking for where they can buy more toilet paper.
This is where truckers come in. United States trucking is keeping us moving during this public health crisis. A trucking fleet makes sure we all stay stocked with the supplies we need to get through this pandemic.
DAT freight and Analytics says that spot rates (the cost to hire a last-minute truck on the open market) have risen 6.1% since the end of February. Sixty-three of America’s one hundred high volume trucking routes have also jumped up. In short, the demand for trucks has skyrocketed.
Because of the increased demand, trucking fleets are experiencing long lines to unload their trucks at distribution centers.
Public trucking companies are seeing volatility in the marketplace. Historically trucking slows down around the end of January, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the slowdown lasted longer.
That slowdown was followed by a huge increase as truckers had to work tirelessly to keep grocery store shelves stocked with goods as state and local governments became enforcing social distancing and stay at home orders.
Rising rates are just one of the many signs that fleet trucking companies are working hard to keep up with the demand from consumers and suppliers. That’s where trucking fleets like this hot shot company come in to take the load of the American supply chain.
Relaxed Hours of Service
On April 9th, 2020 the Department of Transportation relaxed regulations that require truck drivers to take off-road breaks while hauling goods. Under normal circumstances, truck drivers are only allowed to work fourteen-hour days and only eleven of those are to be spent behind the wheel.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also extended its emergency declaration through May 15. This declaration provided regulatory relief to heavy-duty trucking as it responds to the pandemic.
The “hours of service” regulation no longer applies to drivers transporting emergency goods such as medical equipment, food, and fuel. However, drivers are still required to take a ten-hour break after they drop off their load and are advised to pull over if they feel drowsy.
However, truck drivers that are not delivering emergency supplies are still subject to the regulations. Drivers making routine commercial deliveries are not allowed to mix in emergency supplies to skirt around the law.
Some Rest Areas Closed
To make matters worse some rest areas in Pennsylvania were shut down. This is an essential feature of a truck driver’s life. A rest area is a place where they can get a shower, a hot meal, purchase necessary trucking supplies, refuel, and rest.
Public health officials worried about the spread of COVID-19 closed all restaurants and bars in the area and extended this to the rest areas. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it asked Pennsylvania state officials to reconsider the closure. Closing the rest stops could jeopardize the safety of truck drivers on the road during the national pandemic.
Truck stops continue to operate around the clock as usual. Truckers can still rest and shower at their preferred locations. As an additional precaution truck stops are increasing the cleaning of their shower areas.
The refueling lanes and quick mart areas are open but the driver’s lounges and fitness centers are closed. Some restaurants and buffets have been closed down as well but truck stops are offering quick grab and go meal options to help out truckers.
Trucking Companies are Risking Their Health
Truckers and trucking companies are putting their health on the line to make sure everyday Americans have the supplies they need. Some long-haul truckers already experience health conditions due to the nature of their work. This can put them at an even greater risk to catch COVID-19.
While the public sings the praises of the medical and hospital staff, truck drivers are the heroes not a lot of people are talking about. They are keeping everything going and putting their health at risk in the process.
Drivers are doing the best they can to be conscious of sanitary practices and limit their exposure. Some drivers report wiping down the interior of their vehicle and the steering wheel after refueling or touches outside surfaces.
Many others are eating home-prepared meals in their cab. No longer are they hanging out and talking to other drivers. Everyone is staying in their vehicle right now.
Some drivers are being asked to fill out health assessments from shippers and receivers. These forms ask if truck drivers have traveled out of the country, have been experiencing symptoms, or if they know anyone who is infected by the virus.
At some loading facilities, drivers are not allowed on the docks
Thank a Trucker
If you know someone who is a trucker or you pass one on the road be sure to tell them thank you for all they are doing for America. We rely greatly on our truckers to keep America supplied and moving along, even during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We encourage you to share this article with a friend so they can read about how trucking companies are making a difference during COVID-19. And be sure to read more of our articles to keep up to date on the COVID-19 pandemic.