The ongoing coronavirus pandemic hit the economy hard, and the trucking industry was no exception. The trucking industry accounts for about 5% of the US GDP, whereas the manufacturing contributed to 11% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the United States. With such large industries being affected, entire supply chains have been disrupted and are now struggling to make a comeback.
The times are chaotic, and most decisions one arrives on are usually double-edged. The closure of businesses contributes to a large economic crisis but helps to bring down the health crisis. If businesses are opened and are run full-fledged, then they might uplift the economy but will likely worsen the already prevailing health crisis.
According to the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), it is unclear when the United States of America will make a full economic recovery. The reopening of the economy depends on innumerable factors, but most people are fairly certain that the way of life will not be back to how it was for a long time.
Whatever may be the case, you, businesses, and industries have to now prepare for what may come next. All of us have to prepare for the changes that will be brought about in our workplaces.
Companies and organizations should take measures that re-instill the confidence in their workers when they come back on duty. This is especially of greater significance in the trucking industry and truck drivers.
If there is one thing that the experts are advising, it is to avoid travel- but that is exactly the duty of the truckers! The essence of the trucking industry lies in its service of door-to-door connectivity, and if that comes to a halt, then the drivers will have a hard time earning their bread. This makes the trucking industry one of the worst-hit industries amidst the pandemic.
So, what are some systematic changes that can be brought about to re-instill confidence in truckers when the economy reopens? Let us explore the same:
1. Undertaking Newer and Revised Precautionary Methods
New protocols and precautionary methods should be formed, and the old ones can be tweaked to fit the current situation. Practicing social distancing, wherever possible, is a crucial step.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a statement on self-guidance for greater New York city transport and delivery workers. The statement gave useful tips to halt the spread of the SARS-CoV-2. Some of them are:
- The truck drivers are advised to stay confined in their seats while the cargo is being loaded and unloaded from the trucks.
- Should there arise a need to step out of the vehicle, then the truck drivers should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other personnel.
The managers of the trucking business can oversee the actions of the truckers of their fleet with the help of the software at their disposal and hardware, such as the dashboard camera, to take appropriate measures.
2. Regulatory Relief for Commercial Motor Vehicle Operations
The President of the United States of America has declared an emergency. The emergency declaration of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides direct assistance to motor carriers and drivers in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks.
The above mentioned emergency declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations. This also includes (but not limited to) transportation to meet the following needs:
- Fuel and food
- Medical supplies for the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19
- Essential supplies for sanitation and safety from the coronavirus
- Necessary equipment like gloves to inhibit the transmission of the disease
- Transporting essential personnel in medical or other emergency services
3. Increase Wages for Larger Workloads
It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the demand. On the one hand, people keep hoarding essential supplies like sanitizers and tissues, while on the other hand, the trucking companies all over the country are facing a shortage of truck drivers. This means that the workload for the existing truck drivers has increased.
According to an industry publication, Freight Waves, the demand for trucking rose by 25.9% in March of 2020 compared to March of 2019. Even more staggering is the 2.2-fold increase of tender rejections. These numbers clearly show that the demand is exceeding the supply.
Truck capacities are tight, and trucking companies are short on personnel. Hence, the drivers that are working in these times consequently put in more hours than usual and get paid higher wages.
However, it is imperative to see that the truck drivers comply with the Hours of Service (HOS). Fleet managers can oversee this using Samsara’s E log.
4. Provide Adequate Resources for Sanitation and Hygiene
The availability of essential equipment like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and gear is at an all-time low. Many truckers around the world are complaining about the theft of items such as sanitizers.
By providing an adequate supply of sanitizers, soaps, and other sanitary resources, the truckers would have a sense of relief and can be better equipped while working during the pandemic.
5. Regular Screening and Paid Sick Leaves
Regularly screening the truckers is very important to minimize the chances of contagion. In case any of the truck drivers is sick or appears to be sick, it is essential that they self-isolate themselves and be provided paid sick leaves to limit human interaction.
This is especially required for those drivers that cross borders or move in and out of the coronavirus hotspots.
The pandemic caught everyone off guard and threw many people out of their jobs. As the demand increases, it calls for a greater supply workforce. By following well-established protocols and safety measures, the economy of the country can be recovered promptly.
It is the duty of each industry, business and working professional to play their role in restarting the economy in a responsible manner.
The truck drivers are the backbone of the trucking industry and are also in the front lines of this battle against the deadly virus. This makes their return pivotal to economic recovery.