Trucking and the Coronavirus
With the world focused on the fear of illness and global spread of this year’s coronavirus (COVID-19), trucking companies brace for a secondary threat as well, as the freight market slows.
Prior factors affect the trucking industry
Businesses had already stuffed their warehouses with imported goods at the end of 2019, trying to get ahead of the tariffs placed against China. Then, as concerns over the virus itself grew, this slowed import shipping. Trucking companies with work in and around ports have felt the impact already.
Current factors add burden
Currently, several factors are impacting the trucking industry and putting the brakes on freight. First, the national shift for many businesses to encourage their employees to work from home. Secondly, consumers have drastically reduced their daily activities, without choice in most states.
Each state has implemented some sort of guideline to follow, each on a different level, but with the same end goal, to create social distancing. Most states are closing schools, preventing operation of non-essential businesses and even preventing gatherings of 50, 25 and even 10 people.
With a number of major events being cancelled, such as the Mid-America Trucking Show and sporting events (eg. NCAA tournament), the trucking industry has taken a big hit as well, since the need for truckers to carry the necessary supplies to these events has vanished.
Transportation market follows industry market
Garrett Bowers, President of Bowers Trucking in Oklahoma commented to Transport Topics news outlet: “If industry is stifled, transportation will follow.”
Trucking companies can expect to find themselves pinched tightly between all these factors. And, of course, layered on top of these concerns is the well-being of their drivers as they send them out across the nation, where they could be more susceptible to contracting the Coronavirus.
Many companies are now conducting pre-shift screenings and temperature checks to further protect their employees.
Some companies, mostly those immediately affected near the ports, have begun reducing capacity and laying off independent owner-operators in response to the downturn.
But across the country, companies feel the hit of this pandemic. Fleets have been absorbing a cost burden from being unable to return empty containers, as well as administrative costs.
Hoping for a rebound
There is definitely potential for a rebound in the trucking industry once shipping from China and other countries resumes normal pace. However, this potential rebound will have a delay that can impact many companies.
Companies should anticipate and plan not only for reduced rates and capacity, but also for difficulties at the loading docks. If shippers must reduce their own workforce due to coronavirus-related illnesses or quarantines, loads may not be ready when truckers arrive.
Companies should prepare for a double-headed approach to address both the current slow-down and the eventual recovery when shipments begin to surge to make up for delays.
Trucking Startups, Hiring Drivers and CDL Training
No matter what your current situation is in the trucking industry, we have a service that would be valuable to you, like CDL training, starting your own trucking business or hiring new, qualified drivers.
If you have been laid off, this might be a good time to start training to get your CDL. There will be a need for more drivers as businesses and events resume normal operation in the coming months.
If you are already a driver in the trucking industry, this may be the perfect time for you to start your own trucking company. Securing loads will not be an issue once the economy bounces back.
If you are a trucking company, you will most likely need to be hiring qualified drivers in the near future, and you will need to get good, qualified drivers very quickly, as well as manage all of the files for those drivers.
On February 7, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will place new CDL requirements on entry-level driver training (ELDT).
Individuals wanting to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), upgrade their current license from a Class B to a Class A CDL or receive driver training for a passenger, school bus or hazmat endorsement. Requirements are also changing for instructors offering CDL training.
Is it difficult to get a CDL license?
As of February 7, 2020, entry-level CDL trainees will have much stricter requirements for obtaining their CDL. For anyone planning to become a truck driver, you can attend a CDL school and get your CDL license before changes go into effect in 2020.
The new rules require an entry-level driver to complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction provided by a school or other entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) before taking the CDL test.
What are the new requirements to obtain a CDL license?
- CDL school requirements: The minimum standards and requirements for CDL schools will be set at a federal level, as opposed to being set by each state.
- Department of Transportation (DOT) management: CDL schools must record and report hours behind the wheel (no federal minimum) to DOT.
- Schools must register and self-certify: Schools can self-certify instructors. Individual instructors may have to register with the DOT depending on the state.
- CDL driving instructor requirements: Driving instructors are required to have a minimum of 2 years driving experience, a clean motor vehicle record and a medical certification for classroom, on the road and private range instruction
- Increase in curriculum mandates:
- DOT requires 31 theory course topics instead of the original four knowledge topics, which will be accompanied by 19 mandated behind-the-wheel (BTW) skills, that will be tested with vehicle inspection skills at the state department of motor vehicles.
- The new Training Provider Registry (TPR) will require CDL schools to apply to join, starting February 7, 2022.
Governor Tom Wolf increases fines for improper driver’s license
Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, signed in multiple bills on Friday, June 28, 2019. One of those bills, House Bill 384, is related to the transportation industry.
The bill was amended and may affect you if you are in Pennsylvania and work in the transportation industry or if you are an individual operating, hauling or towing oversized loads and/or vehicles.
The House Bill 384 was amended to increase the fine to $200 for driving a vehicle without the proper classed operator’s license.
Do I have the proper driver’s license?
There are many factors to consider when determining what type of driver’s license is required and this can vary by state. This bill only effects Pennsylvania residents, but it is important to be aware of the laws in your state.
If you are a Pennsylvania resident and are unsure if you have the proper license or believe you may need a CDL for the vehicle you are operating, refer to our previous post, Determining class of CDL required. Residents of all other states outside of Pennsylvania should research requirements in their state or contact us directly. Our licensing and permitting team can assist you with any further questions or concerns.
As a result of the Federal Commercial motor vehicle Safety Act of 1986, Pennsylvania established a Commercial Driver Licensing Program. This program has been developed to improve driver quality, ensure commercial drivers have the skills needed to operate commercial vehicles and to prevent drivers from having more than one driver’s license. The program requires you to have a CDL if you operate or plan to operate any of the following Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs):
- A combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds.
- A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
- A school bus designed to carry 11 passengers or more, including the driver.
- Any size vehicle, which transports hazardous materials and is required to be placarded in accordance with federal regulations.
- Any size vehicle used in the transportation of any material that requires hazardous materials placards or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR 73. Federal regulations through the Department of Homeland Security require a background check and fingerprinting for the Hazardous materials endorsement.
To get a CDL, you must pass knowledge and skills tests.
This manual will help you pass the tests. This manual is not a
substitute for a truck driver training class or program. Formal
training is the most reliable way to learn the many special
skills required for safely driving a large commercial vehicle
and becoming a professional driver in the trucking industry.
Figure 1.1 helps you determine if you need a CDL.
Exemptions: You do not need a CDL to drive military equipment while in military uniform; certain fire and emergency equipment owned by a fire company; or recreational vehicles; implements of husbandry; or
certain motorized construction equipment.
This section examines the requirements of the CDL and how you can get your CDL.
As part of the motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, the Federal motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amended
the Federal motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to require interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders,
subject to the physical qualification requirements of the FMCSRs, to provide a current copy of their medical Examiner’s
Certificate (also known as the U.S. DOT Physical card) to their State Driver Licensing Agency.
Interstate is defined as trade, traffic or transportation in the united States:
- Between a place in a State and place outside of such State (including a place outside of the united States); or
- Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the united States; or
- Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.