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COVID-19’s Long-Term Impact on Trucking

Although it may be tiring to hear about COVID-19 each and every day, it appears that the pandemic may be coming to an end soon. The trucking industry may return to normal, but a new normal from how the trucking industry was in January 2020. What changes will be permanent?

Online Interaction

The need for social distancing has caused an increase in demand for “social technology’, not just for trucking companies but for society as a whole.

Kottke Trucking implemented a small handful of new policies they plan to keep out of convenience once the pandemic passes. These include remote driver orientation training using cameras in the truck, and online meetings with a doctor or nurse, on demand.

Likewise, Halvor Lines developed its own mobile application to allow drivers to confirm delivery without having to come into contact with a receiver at the facility. They have also expanded their fueling network to allow their drivers to drive a little bit out of the way to access diesel pumps that are less crowded, reducing not only the chance of COVID-19 transmission, but also less time idling at a station.

No doubt if company drivers leave these organizations to drive for someone else, some will demand the same perks and truckers as a whole will benefit.

Hiring Impact

As new truckers join the workforce and others transfer from company to company, one key question that will be asked in interviews for years to come will be “what did you do to help employees better deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020?” If you manage a fleet with company drivers and other employees below you, this pandemic is the opportunity to show that you can make changes to help make other people’s work easier. If you are a driver, asking this question and finding out what the company did during this time can help you better assess whether or not you want to work for them. Remember, job interviews go both ways.

Regulation Reform

Just when the pandemic was starting to accelerate, the FMCSA was already planning changes to the Hours of Service regulations that apply nationwide. Then the pandemic hit and the FMCSA suspended HoS regulations for truckers delivering essential goods to counteract the pandemic.

No doubt the safety statistics the FMCSA compiles from this period will influence any changes in the regulations for years to come.

You can do your part (or continue to do your part) by driving safely as you exceed what would normally be Hours of Service. If the FMCSA finds that people driving an additional hour every day causes only a marginal increase in risk, they may consider easing the regulations once the pandemic has passed. Likewise, if they find that allowing people to drive until the job is complete has done more harm than good, truckers may never get another opportunity to change the regulations like this again.

Trucker Respect

It only takes one trip to the grocery store and seeing an aisle completely devoid of toilet paper to make the average person grateful for the work truckers do. Healthcare workers might be combating infected cases directly, but were it not for truckers, the United States economy would not last two weeks, pandemic or otherwise.

A lot of respect is due to truckers, pandemic or otherwise, and this situation we find ourselves in helps bring that to light.

Conclusion

Numbers for the COVID-19 pandemic seem to be stabilizing as if we are in the downward slope of the curve. When the pandemic is over, the trucking industry will go back to normal operations, but with some changes that should overall improve the quality of life for truckers. From technological implementation to changes in regulations, the industry is changing.

Article courtesy of TopMark Funding.

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