The coronavirus has shut down many businesses across the United States in the last few weeks, but rather than slowing down, those in the trucking industry have been given a boost. There is an immediate need for truck drivers who haul consumer goods to pick up local loads for trucks or cross-country routes to help move the massive amount of emergency supplies, medical equipment, and consumables that are flying off the shelves at retail locations.
At least for now, those in the trucking industry are able to get better rates on their hauls, as the demand is high for services. However, as seen in other areas around the globe, truckers eventually get caught up in the quarantine. When this happened in China, it delayed the ability of factories to get production lines going and kept manufactured goods from making to necessary ports or distribution points. Though it isn’t the case just yet, truckers are starting to experience new pressures and challenges in the wake of COVID-19.
Truckers are being asked by many companies to sign coronavirus waivers or declarations upon arrival at distribution centers. The paperwork process has become more complicated, but this is just the start of their worries. Shippers looking to protect their warehouses or plants from a coronavirus outbreak are on high alert, and this fear is passed on to those in the transport industry. There could be additional restrictions placed on drivers as the country continues to experience a surge in infections. Beyond that, the industry is expecting a surge of goods from China to arrive toward the end of April and May. The increased demand can continue to drive rates higher, but with potential containment zones being explored in some of the hot spot areas of the U.S., there may be fewer options for delivery.
Trucker Safety Concerns
As drivers continue to move between states and locations, there are rising concerns about their safety when using rest areas. Many states have closed a large number of facilities, which has impacted the ability of truckers to safely do their job. However, using facilities that are improperly maintained is also a concern. Truckers are also having a more difficult time finding food service locations that will accommodate the unique situation they are in, but the food industry is slowly changing to make things easier.
Keeping the transport industry alive is one of the key ways the United States can continue to address the coronavirus. Truckers stand to have a financial gain from the pandemic, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of their safety and health.