As the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis rapidly changes the way Americans live, it is also having a profound impact on the trucking industry — and more changes are likely to come.
The Coronavirus crisis (and the response to it) is evolving rapidly, making it difficult to predict precisely how trucking and truck drivers will need to adapt to respond. After all, in a just single week, we’ve seen a state of emergency declared, Hours of Service rules thrown out the window for many drivers, thousands of dine-in restaurants close, and rest stops shutter.
However, there are a few key ways that trucking could alter due to the Coronavirus. Take a look below.
- The grocery supply industry is likely to boom. Already, grocery haulers are reporting that they’re hiring drivers to keep up with increasing consumer demand for staple items. It’s reasonable to expect that as Americans continue to stay home in the weeks and months to come and keep practicing “social distancing,” they’ll continue to stock up on grocery items.
- A Coronavirus-induced recession could hurt other truckers. While some sectors like grocery haulers are likely to thrive during COVID-19, others are likely to struggle as the illness puts a stranglehold on the U.S. economy. Smaller companies and owner-operators in particular might not have the recourses to help them weather the economic storm.
- Drivers might have to get used to increased screening efforts at shippers and receivers. Already, many truckers are reporting that they are being asked to fill out health questionnaires or that they are being denied access to restrooms at facilities when they pick up or deliver. These changes are likely to continue as facilities refine their response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
- Medical card issues could hamper the CDL renewal process. Already, truckers have contacted CDLLife about problems that they expect to have with renewing their medical cards because of various Coronavirus-related issues.
- Obtaining a CDL might be more of a pain due to DMV closures. Around the nation, drivers license offices are open by appointment only or closed altogether. For new drivers or those who need to renew their CDL, these closures could keep them off the road during the Coronavirus crisis.
- Truckers could get a break from traffic. An unexpected benefit for truckers on the road during the pandemic is that with many Americans working from home, laid off, or furloughed by COVID-19, traffic has been noticeably lighter in many U.S. cities. This trend could increase even after businesses reopen as experts predict that many workers who started working from home due to Coronavirus may continue to do so after the crisis has passed.
- Mental health issues could increase for truckers. Trucking is already a stressful occupation, and the Coronavirus crisis has increased the pressure to deliver the goods as quickly as possible. This increased stress coupled with the isolation of trucking during America’s new quarantine lifestyle could result in increased depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues for U.S. truckers.
- America will gain a newfound respect for truck drivers. One of the most positive side effects of the Coronavirus crisis is the outpouring of support from non-truckers for the trucking industry and the drivers who are putting their lives on the line to deliver the meat, produce, bread, and yes, toilet paper that they need. The COVID-19 crisis has given Americans a much-needed lesson on the supply chain and how critically dependent we all are on truck drivers.
What did we miss? What changes do you expect to see in trucking due to COVID-19? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.