Trucking has seen some rapid changes in recent years. From all trucks having to be fitted with ELD technology to monitor the hours a driver is on the road for to the autonomous vehicle technology that is being developed by companies like Torc Robotics, the change has allowed for the total transformation of the industry, and truckers were excited to see what the future had in store. Something none of them saw coming, however, was the COVID-19 pandemic. It totally flipped the transportation sector on its head and trucking was affected in many different ways.
It was as if the whole world stopped when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the year 2020. People from all walks of life were directly and severely affected, not only by the virus itself but of the overall effect it has brought us. It was something that everyone was not prepared for and took time to understand that it brought the whole world and the economy to its knees.
COVID-19 affected all areas of commerce, and the transportation industry was not an exception. As for the trucking industry, what were the challenges they faced in the wake of COVID-19?
- Consumer demands have drastically shifted which affected the supply chains.
Demand for products such as face masks, PPEs, disinfectants, and medicines have increased by more than 200%, and some products which seemed unnecessary for the meantime took their all-time low. Example, products such as school bags and supplies have frozen on shelves because there were no face-to-face classes for children. And with this, the trucking industry seemed to have been greatly affected by this sudden shift of consumer demands.
Groceries have also wildly increased as a lot of consumers hoard food and toiletries. Manufacturers and producers could sometimes no longer keep up with the demands, hence, weakening the supply chain and directly affecting the trucking industry. No stocks, no delivery. Even if you have enough money to buy the most reliable Western Star semi truck for sale for your business, it’s not going to be that useful if you have limited deliveries.
- Trucking workforce is susceptible to getting infected by the virus.
As the COVID-19 virus spreads like wildfire all over the country, truck drivers and employees have increased risk of exposure.
Truck drivers, most especially, are considered front liners. They spend most of their time on the road, and meet face-to-face with different people, from loading to unloading. They kept working just to keep the supply chain running smoothly. Because of this, a lot of drivers contracted the disease, greatly affecting the operations. Some deliveries were put on hold due to lack of truck drivers.
- Demand for drivers is fluctuating.
Some fleets have become busier than others. Those that transport food, medical supplies and other essential goods had to hire new drivers to keep up with the demands, while some may have to cut down on their workforce in order to make ends meet, such as those catering leisure or hospitality businesses.
During the first two quarters of 2020, more than 40,000 truck drivers lost their jobs, but in the third quarter of the year, the industry added more. This goes to show that it has been indeed a roller coaster ride for the trucking industry.
- More challenges are arising.
Some warehouses have closed because their workforce has been compromised; hence, truck routes were disrupted since drivers could not enter these distribution locations. This also means that the travel routes are being cut, and so do the revenues.
Another challenge is on the part of the drivers. They will have difficulty finding places to eat or rest since restaurants are closed, and roadside stops are the only option, since trucks cannot enter drive-throughs. They became more at risk even while sacrificing their comfort.
Since the pandemic is not yet over, the trucking industry has learned to adapt to the new normal. Aside from exercising safety protocols, the industry has also learned to shift to paperless and contactless systems to minimize physical exchanges.
Training and orientation are also being done remotely to cut down large group gatherings and to adhere to social distancing. Another great news is that a lot of Americans are now vaccinated and soon, the country will be able to achieve herd immunity. Risks of infection are getting less and everyone may be able to go back to their normal lives soon enough.
The trucking industry may have taken a temporary blow but it will always be able to bounce back, by adapting to new systems and protocols in line with the new normal.
Joie is the passionate writer and blogger of UsedVending.com. She enjoys writing and works at an amazing pace. Blessed with two adorable boys, she dreams of creating a successful career online. She also loves to write about parenting, home and family life, technology and gaming, as well as beauty and health.