COVID-19 and challenges for truckers
Truck drivers face concerns whether coming or going in this fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Personal and economic challenges face the 1.8 million CMV drivers in America, because unlike other businesses, a driver cannot simply choose to work from home.
Drivers face personal risk during this outbreak
At the forefront, the personal health and wellness of truck drivers is at stake. Drivers are literally in the front seat of this crisis as they travel the country delivering goods.
Several factors put truck drivers at greater risk of being exposed and/or contracting the coronavirus, including:
- nationwide travel
- handling of overseas goods
- exposure at truck stops for meals and showers
- multiple facility stops
On the flip side, driving is mostly an isolated activity. Still, it’s difficult for a driver to practice the social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Drivers face greater risk of illness
Besides the greater risk of contact with the coronavirus, according to a 2014 study by the CDC, drivers may also be at greater risk of falling ill from the virus .
The study showed more than half of truck drivers smoke and are two times as likely to have diabetes as the rest of the population. These health factors put them in a higher risk category should they contract the COVID-19 virus strain.
The issue grows greater with the realization that 38% of drivers do not have health insurance (same CDC study). Furthermore, paid sick leave in the trucking industry is uncommon.
Many companies are now conducting pre-shift screenings and temperature checks to further protect their employees.
Drivers face economic uncertainty
Additionally, financial stability for drivers is threatened by the secondary fallout of the virus, economic downturn. Since between 350,000 and 400,000 of America’s drivers are independent owner-operators, they work freelance, without the benefits of regulations that protect workers from sudden wage loss.
For fleet drivers, however, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers by requiring companies with more than one hundred employees to give at least 60-days of notice before layoffs or closings, if it would affect 50 or more employees.
Still, companies can increase down days or slow line rates as needed when addressing a market downturn.
Waiting out the viral impact
It seems likely the coronavirus outbreak will amplify pricing and capacity swings in the US trucking industry in 2020. Logistics experts warn of a coming price shock for shippers. Downshifts in the trucking market capacity and shipping rates are expected to remain longer than normal. However, when freight volume rises, as is expected when quarantines lift, so will rates.
Factors that increase shipping rates include the following:
- short supply of trucks
- increase in freight demand
- produce season
- spring retail sales surge
- manufacturing increases
Each of these factors could result in greater truckload capacity, which would ease the pinch of the coronavirus impact to the trucking industry and drivers, specifically.
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.