Trucking companies are facing unique challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic as they try to deliver, food/medicine and protective equipment and other supplies. The American Trucking Associations recently praised the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for supplying assistance to truckers.
Coronavirus Trucking Challenges
Small Business Trends contacted two industry insiders to understand more about the issues this pandemic is causing.
Several Different Layers
Sean McNally, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations and Brian Fielkow, CEO of JETCO Delivery, both weighed in.
Fielkow started describing an issue that has several different layers.
“You’ve got to understand that there is not one huge trucking industry,” he writes. “It is a collection of businesses operating in different niches. Your niche impacts how COVID-19 impacts you. If you are serving the food and beverage industry, you likely are busy. If you are serving Big 3 automakers (whose plants are shut down), you are likely scrambling. “
A Decent Job
He goes on to say that governments are doing a decent job understanding the needs of truckers. But there are some unintended consequences to their actions.
“Shutting down restaurants has made it too difficult for drivers to find food and facilities on the road,” he writes. “That pendulum needs to be adjusted so that drivers can do their jobs and take care of themselves to stay healthy.”
“Right now, what we are hearing from drivers is their biggest challenge is access to food and hygiene facilities like bathrooms and rest areas,” he writes.
“We are urging state and local governments to keep rest stops and welcome centers open so drivers can get a meal on the road or use the bathroom.”
McNally also talked about some other areas government has helped with.
“At the federal level, the Department of Transportation has granted key waivers – including flexibility in the hours-of-service for drivers hauling essential goods.”
He goes on to say drivers with credentials expiring during the pandemic have been granted some leeway.
“In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has listed truck drivers and others in our industry as essential personnel so we can continue to operate.”
Fielkow stresses the need for communication.
“Leaders could be clearer that a SHELTER IN PLACE is not a QUARANTINE,” he says. “Trucking is an essential industry and is permitted to run. However, some of the government actions are causing fear among workers in essential industries.”
Governments aren’t the only ones that need to do their part. Fielkow says the public as well as shippers and receivers need to support truck drivers.
“Offering a bottle of water, somewhere to eat and rest or at least use a restroom can and will go a long way. “
McNally adds cooperation for the principals. He says drivers and companies need to balance the health and safety of the drivers while delivering goods to markets and hospitals nationwide.
“Trucking is literally the lifeblood of our economy and our supply chain – if they stop, the country will stop,” he says.
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