Coronavirus and Trucking Industry: Do Owner Operators and Company Truck Drivers Feel the Impact of COVID-19?
On Friday, March 13, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. And when companies all over the USA allow their employees to work from home, truckers don’t have such an opportunity. Even considering that the driver’s job is mostly “lonely,” nonetheless, they have to deal with people on truck stops and during the loading/unloading. And of course, owner operators don’t have paid sick leave.
But we are dealing not only with its effect on our health but also on the economy and industry, including trucking.
According to FreightWaves customs data, Chinese imports accounted for roughly 40% of the shipments entering the U.S. in the last month. And currently, this import decreased by 19%. We still do not know whether the number of cargo containers will continue to decline, but a drop in imports can have a strong impact on freight activity.
But at the same time, people are buying a lot of goods such as toilet paper, bottled water, soaps, cleaners, and non-perishable foods. Typically, such high consumption of goods occurs the time around July 4, as well as around Christmas. So the huge amount has to be transferred from warehouses to shopping centers. DAT Load Boards pointed at a 9.8% jump in loads posted during the first week of March.
Even The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has temporarily suspended a trucking safety law and issued the National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles Delivering Relief in Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak. This relates to commercial motor vehicle operations that carry the following types of loads:
– Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
– Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for the healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
– Food for emergency restocking of stores.
– Equipment, supplies, and persons are necessary for the establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
– Persons designated by Federal, State, or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
– Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.
Despite the fact that now it is difficult to predict what effect coronavirus will ultimately have on the trucking industry, we can confidently say that truckers take a huge part of keeping America moving.