As COVID-19 has spread across the world, it’s impacted all aspects of our “normal.” The trucking industry is no exception. While non-essential businesses shut down immediately to prevent further spread, truckers remained operational. After all, who else would continue to move essential items to and from hospitals and stores? Here’s everything you need to know about how the pandemic has affected the industry.
Trucking industry receives new rules and regulations
Just as schools began to close and non-essential employees began to work remotely in mid-March, the Department of Transportation lifted some regulations on drivers in charge of emergency supplies. This was intended to help the movement of COVID-19 related necessities such as groceries, fuel, masks, gloves, and more.
The primary change was an alteration in the “hours of service” that previously applied to drivers. In the past, drivers were only allowed to work 14-hour days (with 11 of the 14 actually behind the wheel). However, with the pandemic in mind, some drivers now have more flexibility due to the emergency declaration.
Unfortunately, another regulation was put into place regarding trucker benefits. Along most trucking routes were bars, restaurants, and other small businesses that served drivers in their need for food, sleep, or bathrooms. Most (if not all), however, were required to shut down as “non-essential businesses.” While lobbying groups advocated for the trucking industry, it was to no avail. These locations (in addition to drivers’ lounges, fitness centers, and buffets) were all shut down due to safety concerns.
Pandemic fuel prices
On April 21, President Trump announced via Twitter that he would “formulate a plan to make funds available” to help the oil and gas industry. This is a subtle indication of how drastically the pandemic has impacted gas prices. The national average retail price of a gallon of diesel dropped to $2.48 in late April. More recently, oil prices per barrel went into the negative territory for the first time ever. The plummet in gas prices is one of the many significant impacts that COVID-19 has had. The result of this effect is still not entirely clear. Only time will tell how the oil and gas industry will rebound.
Truck drivers as frontline workers
Truck drivers are considered frontline workers during this time. They’re essential and allow others to stay home and stay healthy. As a result, they are at an increased risk of exposure. Here are the best resources that can help truck drivers stay updated.
The trucking industry has seen a lot of change to their daily operation between new regulations and gas prices. However, unlike other organizations that have been able to shift how they operate, truckers are frontline workers who must continue to work like normal for the benefit of the nation. Stay up to date with all changes at the above links and stay safe!