With coronavirus or Covid-19 taking center stage in our lives, the ramifications of the cancelations and closures are hitting everyone in both their personal and professional lives. As individuals and businesses try to adjust, the trucking industry finds itself in a unique position in handling the virus, all amid other global issues hitting the industry and the economy as a whole.
As some have noted, the trucking industry is in some ways a front line for keeping the essentials in people’s lives during this time of crisis. With large runs on grocery stores, particularly perishable goods, hand sanitizer, home cleaning supplies, and toilet paper, trucking companies are finding they need to adjust to the new amounts of certain products that are needed. Similarly, they find themselves need to transport critical medical supplies needed to handle the virus.
Doing so also requires, of course, drivers that are healthy and able to take care of the demand, which requires drivers to be fully informed, so they can take all possible steps to stay safe and healthy, as the rest of the population does as well. As part of this ongoing crisis, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a national emergency declaration providing regulatory relief for hours of service rules for deliveries consisting solely of certain medical and food supplies.
At the same time, local “no gather” and “shelter in place” orders issued to stop the spread of the virus are closing down big retailers, warehouses, car dealerships and other locations where truckers deliver goods. Without a destination, this commerce is slowed or halted.
On top of handling the coronavirus, the trucking industry is also facing new obstacles with the new oil price war. The move comes at an already tumultuous time for the global economy, with a volatile stock market showing losses due to the virus. On the one hand, this is a boon for the trucking industry, as it should see lower fuel prices. However, it’s also been noted that the price war could lead to other greater economic ramifications with a negative overall impact across industries, including trucking. As such, the price war adds more volatility to an uncertain time. Locally, in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, container volume has been disrupted because of the effect of the virus on production in China. While expectations are that volume will increase later in the spring, the effect today is significant for transportation companies and truck drivers.
With so much in flux, it is important for transportation companies, whether motor carriers, logistics companies, brokers or warehousemen, to have experienced employment and transportation lawyers on their side to navigate the current turbulent environment.