As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the United States and the world, the commercial trucking industry is feeling the impact. Since the very beginning of the pandemic, drivers and fleet owners have felt the weight of the coronavirus pandemic. Depending on your place in the industry, you may be dealing with wide-range of differing issues.
In our inaugural blog, Border Trucking Compliance will analyze how the coronavirus pandemic has affected trucking and how it may affect it in the future!
The Coronavirus Pandemic
If you have been living on a remote island for the past few months, COVID-19 is a deadly, infectious strain of coronavirus. It is believed to have originated in China, where it quickly spread across the globe. At the time of this publication, the United States has become the epicenter of the virus, which certainly does not bode well for the trucking industry.
The coronavirus is a respiratory disease, which is especially deadly for individuals with certain pre-existing conditions. While older individuals are typically considered to be most at risk, individuals of every age demographic have succumbed to the virus itself or complications related to the virus.
Recently, some experts have even posited that the coronavirus may be airborne as well, further complicating the response on an individual and systemic level. This heightened level of awareness for the coronavirus has been changing life for truckers across the country, in small and big ways.
How Truck Drivers Are Being Affected
Truck drivers are feeling the brunt of this in various different ways. The first, and perhaps less thought about effect, was the availability of rest stops for truckers. In the rush to close down public spaces, some rest stops also closed for fear of becoming hubs for coronavirus spread. Unfortunately, this had an adverse effect on truckers. The American Trucking Association (ATA) has worked to reopen all rest stops for truckers.
Another seemingly minor but important aspect of the issue is dining and lodging areas for truckers. These areas, like rest stops, shut down as the coronavirus began to sweep across the nation. These lodging and dining locations are vital for truckers to get nutrition and rest. Yet again, the ATA has been hard at work trying to help truckers secure lodging and housing, as well as provide a list of open places.
In terms of moving cargo, this is where the majority of the impact has been felt. Since money is flowing less and less among everyday Americans, some items have dropped dramatically in volume. Some truckers have seen a 30% to 60% drop in cargo volume, with some unable to find work at all. This only exacerbates the recent calls by truck drivers for better pay and protections.
While it would be comforting to know that truckers would recover after the virus, it seems as though economic factors may have as much an impact on the industry. As of this publication, the disconnect between the stock market and the material conditions of Americans continues to grow. As the market rallies, millions continue to lose their jobs, leading some to believe that a market crash is inevitable. The stock market crashing once more would only exacerbate trucker issues.
COVID-19 & Fleet Companies
For trucking companies and fleets, the problems are somewhat different. Fleet managers have been and will continue to make tough decisions as the coronavirus pandemic wages on. Companies have had to lay off drivers and reduce their workload to account for the decrease in economic activity.
Fleet companies are also dealing with the medical ramifications of the virus, with truck drivers across the states falling ill to the virus. This has had the effect of putting a strain on the insurance industry as well as the medical industry.
Many fleet companies were struggling to stay afloat prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and the fear is that many of these struggling companies may fail, leading to even more dangerous ripples throughout the industry and economy.
What You Can Do
If you are a truck driver in the United States, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself.
First, you may want to stay up-to-date on CDC and WHO health recommendations. The recommendations from the CDC and WHO are crucial to giving day-to-day information related to the coronavirus. If you aren’t informed of the virus, then you may not take the proper precautions to stay healthy.
For those who may own a trucking company, it may be prudent to try to take care of any debt that you may have accrued. You may need to also get rid of any unnecessary overhead that is possible, which may put you in an ideal financial position if the economy were to crash.