Now recognized as a global pandemic, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread across the world and interrupted our daily lives. In addition to the enormous medical challenges the virus has presented, it’s also caused far-reaching economic impacts as well. As Americans flood into stores of all kinds in order to prepare for a multi-week stay-at-home order, shelves are being stripped bare of essentials like non-perishable foods, paper goods, and bottled water.
This rush for resources makes trucking and freight transportation a critical industry now more than ever. But that increased need for supplies doesn’t mean that truckers need to put themselves at increased risk of contracting the virus in order to meet the demand. As a leading freight factoring company, as truckers ourselves, wants to do our part in keeping drivers safe. Here are a few things to consider when trucking during the coronavirus pandemic.
Shipments and Loads May Not Be Ready
Many truck drivers work independently or travel solo. This automatically means that they’re practicing effective social distancing. However, the factories, warehouses, and shipping and receiving centers may have a staff of 200-300 people. This puts these facilities at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the virus. This could mean that some facilities are working with smaller crews as some staff take time off to recover or isolate.
For truckers, this could mean that your regular shipments or loads from these businesses may not be ready at their usual scheduled time. It could also mean that these loads may not be complete or that there are fewer people to help load them onto the truck. In moments like these, work with the facility to find other ways to complete a shipment, or to load the truck fully. They may know of other areas that have work to offer.
Take Advantage of Telehealth Services
Many healthcare resources are already strained by the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the United States. If you haven’t already, now is the ideal time to take advantage of the many telehealth options and services available. Your insurance provider or your primary care provider may already offer these services. Connect with them through email to see if you can set up a phone call or video call with a nurse or other healthcare professional if you’re feeling ill.
By using a telehealth service, you’re lessening the strain on healthcare centers and providers. This allows them to attend to in-person patients who may be showing symptoms of an infection. Additionally, it keeps you safe from these potentially ill individuals. It’s a great way to care for your own health and that of those around you.
Licenses and Permits May be Unavailable
As more and more states go into lockdown, many state services are being temporarily suspended, including the Department of Motor Vehicles in many cases. This makes it nearly impossible to get a license or a permit during this time. If you need to renew your license, you may be able to complete the process online. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has enacted a three-month waiver for state and CLP holders, in effect moving the expiration date back on driver licenses and permits.
While the closure of the DMV makes it challenging for some drivers, the effects have a farther reach than just that. What the closure of many DMVs means is that if a driver gets sick, there’s no one to replace them. This makes it imperative that all drivers place their health first and take care of themselves.
Federal Guidelines and Limitations are Changing
The need for supplies of all kinds is obvious, and the United States are relying on truckers to bring them these supplies. In light of the circumstances, the Department of Transportation has suspended some regulations that make it easier to keep more drivers on the road longer. For example, during non-emergencies, drivers are only allowed to work 14 hour days, and only 11 of those can be spent driving. However, for drivers carrying emergency supplies like masks, fuel, groceries, and construction materials these driving hours are now suspended. That said, drivers will still have to take a minimum 10-hour break after they’ve completed a shipment.
Truck Stops and Gas Stations May Have Limited Services
In states that have declared a lockdown, many restaurants and bars have closed. While in some cases, these institutions have the ability to offer take-out orders, many have closed entirely to protect their workers. This also extends to some truck stops and gas stations that have dining facilities.
Additionally, some rest stops may be closed. For instance, at the time of writing, TA Petro, one of the largest providers of long-distance transportation services and care, has closed its lounges, restaurants, and bars in many of the states that are now in lockdown. However, the company announced that take-out orders would still be offered in some cases, and showers are still open.
Changes like these can make it challenging to find a place to stop and rest. Make sure to ask other drivers in the area if they know of open places you can stop.
Freight Volumes May Change as Shopping Habits Do Too
Right now, Americans are buying supplies like groceries and medical supplies at unprecedented levels. This strain has translated to many drivers, who are now making more trips in the same amount of time. However, there may be a “bullwhip” reaction. Increased demand for supplies and drivers now may rapidly dwindle as American shopping habits change in the coming weeks. Currently, many supplies are still in fierce demand, but as people get enough of them, the need will drop. As the crisis begins to stabilize, so too will the need for supplies and drivers. This could lead to an overall decrease in freight volumes, and increased competition for contracts and shipments amongst drivers and other freight companies.
There are a Variety of Resources Available to Support Drivers
While these are uncertain times, drivers can rest assured that numerous organizations are working to support them and are acting in the best interest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has assembled a COVID-19 information and resources page that helps drivers make smart decisions about their work.
Financial Carrier Services is Here to Help
Now more than ever, using a freight factoring service like ours can keep you on the road. Instead of waiting for a month or longer, submit your invoices to us and we’ll pay you right away, allowing you more financial freedom. We also offer equipment financing and warranties, fuel cards and advances, and even industry discounts.
The United States needs all of its truck drivers now, and we’re here to help.