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Effects of COVID-19 on the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry has been put under pressure this year due to COVID-19 and America’s economy relies on the trucking industry, but no one could have prepared it for a pandemic, making commercial trucking insurance in California even more crucial for owner-operators. 

The Trucking Industry and COVID-19

Trucks require commercial truck insurance in order to operate, which is why obtaining the right insurance is crucial.

During a pandemic, having the wrong insurance can cost you time and money. While your insurance rates are not directly impacted by COVID-19, here are a few things about the trucking industry that have been affected. 

FMCSA Rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a new rule on May 14, 2020,  that updated the hours-of-service (HOS) rules for motor vehicle drivers.

This allows for more flexibility within the industry. The need for more trucks on the road during the pandemic to deliver supplies like groceries and personal protection equipment, truckers are expected to work long hours.

However, the trucking industry was already notorious for having its employees work long hours, driving for more than 10 hours on the road at a time, something that can be detrimental to personal health and dangerous to everyone on the road. 

The new rule has addressed the following concerns:

  • 30-minute breaks
  • Sleeper-berth rules
  • Chans to driving conditions
  • Changes to short-haul exception

The FMCSA extended the Emergency Declaration on April 9, 2020, which provides HOS and other regulatory relief to commercial truck drivers transporting emergency goods in response to the pandemic.

The declaration also covered liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration units. None of the HOS regulations apply, however, while the driver is providing assistance under the emergency relief exemption.

This means that drivers are no longer required to take 30-minute breaks if their job is to help deliver goods during the coronavirus.

To further ensure the safety of drivers, once the driver has finished the delivery, they must receive a minimum of ten hours off duty if they’re transporting goods and eight hours if they are transporting passengers.

Business Concerns for Fleets 

During pressing times such as these, it can be difficult for businesses to efficiently run fleets. Trucking and logistics ensure that medical supplies, groceries, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and more move through the supply chain efficiency so that they can get where they need to be as soon as possible.

Fleets need to keep their drivers and employees safe and healthy in order to remain compliant with regulations. 

Pivoting from normal operations to emergency operations has been difficult, to say the least. From the technicians that work on the trucks to the drivers themselves, the trucking industry has become even more critical to the survival of not only the US economy but its citizens as well. 

Unemployment Rates

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people were forced to work fewer hours or became completely unemployed.

While the trucking industry continued to be essential throughout COVID-19, many truckers still lost their jobs. According to Truckinginfo, over 88,000 truckers lost their jobs in April alone as part of the 20.5 million job losses across the United States. 

Freight Operations

It’s not new that supply chains have suffered a slowdown throughout the entire pandemic. Although drivers have been exempt from nonessential business closers and stay-at-home orders imposed by states, there are disruptions that no amount of preparation could have helped avoid. 

The trucking industry is reporting long wait times at both pickup and delivery points because of the lack of personnel on these sites. This means that receiving schedules have slowed down compared to the usual turnaround times of freight operations.

Drivers have also been refusing to book pickups in areas hit hard by the pandemic, which has resulted in rate increases and caused a spot market.

Even the popular trucking routes are challenging for drivers because of restroom closures. Furthermore, individual states have closed rest areas that the truckers rely so heavily upon. 

Additionally, trucks that aren’t filled or those with less-than-truckload (LTL) freight carriers have been turned away from terminals because of limited space, adding fees onto freight costs overall. 

Trucking Operations

While many of the impacts of COVID-19 on the trucking industry seem negative, there have been positive outcomes from the pandemic. One of these positive effects is the adoption of technology for reducing physical contact between stakeholders. 

With paperless technologies like electronic bill pay and virtual communications between vendors and salespeople, companies can better protect their employees.

They may also see better efficiency running their operations in this way, just as other industries have. 

Office Management

We must also not forget office management, which works behind the scenes of the trucking industry.

With video conferencing and virtual team communications, managers who are forced to work from home can easily continue to do their jobs without remaining in contact with vendors and employees.

Remote working can also improve work and life balance, and many industries have considered making it a long-term solution. 

Onboarding

New driver onboarding has also seen changes because of the health risks involved with human-to-human contact.

Orientation has been widely moved to an online environment, which has also reduced the costs associated with having in-person orientation. These sessions are also further streamlined to be completed in less time and with less overhead. 

Driver Recognition

While the American economy relies heavily on the trucking industry, the pandemic has opened many Americans’ eyes for just how critical it truly is.

Truck drivers, like other essential workers, have received gratitude from other Americans who have realized just how important the job is. 

Lasting Impact of COVID-19 on the Trucking Industry 

Many of the changes happening in most industries will likely remain long after the pandemic ends and the trucking industry is no exception.

Not only will the health-protective aspects of these changes continue for years to come, but trucking companies will be able to measure how cost-effective these solutions are for their businesses.

COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone within the trucking industry, but this is one industry that has remained resilient.

Choose Cheap Commercial Truck Insurance

With the uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more essential than ever to have your fleet and business protected by getting commercial insurance for trucks.

If you’re looking for cheap truck insurance quotes, contact our team at SoCal Truck Insurance today.