COVID has brought about changes in almost every industry, and trucking has seen some significant effects. Whether these changes are permanent or temporary, our country has come to appreciate the key role the industry and its drivers play in our economy. Supply chains have risen in the national consciousness as demand for certain types of goods has increased.
The trucking industry is faced with not only increased demand but logistics challenges due to lock-downs. Here are some of the changes we’ve noticed in laws and practices within the industry.
Increasing Focus on Health and Safety
Truck drivers are on the front lines delivering vital supplies, and trucking companies are using a variety of methods to ensure the safety of their drivers. Many have started offering remote access to orientation materials, remote education, or smaller, more distanced in-person classes.
They are offering education on how to stay safe and social-distance while on the job. Companies are finding ways to better support their drivers, even as demand for transportation increases and logistic problems continue to multiply.
Hours of Service Enforcement
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made an emergency declaration in response to an increased need for supplies delivered in a timely manner. Drivers delivering goods associated with COVID-19 relief efforts or supplies necessary for community safety and sanitation are exempt from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).
These regulations include hours of service rules, which may mean longer hours are possible for truckers. Companies are taking steps to ensure safety despite the increase in time on the road.
Reduced Mandatory Quarantines at Borders
Unless they are feeling unwell, truck drivers are exempt from the requirement that they quarantine for 14 days at the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders. When they do arrive, drivers are being screened and are required to distance from staff working at the borders.
Rest Stop Closures
Many rest stops throughout the country closed in March of 2020, causing problems for truckers who needed safe places to park and rest. Some tech companies offered a helping hand through apps that let drivers identify open rest stops and will even assist with contact tracing, should one of the staff members at a rest stop become ill with COVID.
Many of the staff who manned these rest stops were over 60 years old. Although some have opened up since their initial closures in March, some continue to remain closed or close due to lack of local funding and other local restrictions.
Driver Training and Licensing
In a time when there is an increased demand for truckers, some states have either changed their State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLA) operating hours or closed their centers. Future drivers are experiencing more challenges and wait-times getting their commercial driver’s licenses or commercial learner’s permits due to these changes.
Trucking companies have taken precautions to reduce the spread of COVID by allowing more remote access to orientation materials, making getting started a little easier for candidates.
Keeping Supply Chains Intact
We’ve all come to appreciate the role truckers and other professionals associated with supply chains play in our society. At SD Truck World, we look forward to doing whatever we can to support our drivers and ensure their safety as they navigate the difficult landscape ahead of us.