Coronavirus and the nation’s response to the emergency are rapidly changing the day-to-day realities of fleet-based businesses in the United States. While several states are again considering stay-at-home rules, transportation, field service, utility workers, energy workers and many other fleet-based businesses have been deemed essential services and continue to operate, albeit in a vastly altered landscape.
The transportation industry continues to face challenges due to supply chain disruptions and nationwide emergency delivery needs while drivers strive to preserve their health on the road. According to Nick Beck, Owner of Beck Trucking, trucking companies are already doing their best to meet increased demand across the country.
On both sides, inbound and outbound, we’re definitely trying to help out; a few customers have asked us to help supply grocery chains. They have had an influx of grocery store loads that they need assistance with, including around 600 loads earlier this week. We’ve been able to pull resources from what we normally do to assist in keeping the grocery stores full.
Keeping track of up-to-date information is critical for fleet managers and drivers. As a company dedicated to serving fleet-based businesses, Verizon Connect will update this space frequently to provide industry updates and resources managers can use to make informed decisions.
The events of the past few months have emphasized why we do what we do: deliver the solutions, services, and expertise that help keep drivers safe, and drive efficiencies and productivity for fleet-based businesses.
Andrés Irlando, President Verizon Connect
During this global pandemic, Verizon Connect is ready to provide whatever level of support is required.
- We are fully staffed at regular levels. We have enabled our teams to work from home while maintaining normal levels of support and accessibility to our teams.
- We are committed to keeping our systems and platforms up and running and have implemented emergency operations to care for our customers.
- We will continue to work closely with our customers and suppliers to support critical business operations.
To see everything Verizon is doing to respond to the crisis, please view this page.
Relaxed hours of service: What trucking companies and drivers need to know
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration until the end of the year to provide HOS relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting necessary goods in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These goods include food, raw materials, medical supplies, paper products and the supplies/equipment necessary for sanitization and community safety.
The new rule addresses long standing key concerns of the industry including:
- The 30-minute break rule
- Sleeper-birth rules
- Changes to adverse driving conditions exceptions
- Changes to short-haul exception
Read all about the rule change on FMCSA website.
According to the FMCSA, none of the HOS regulations apply “while the driver is engaged with providing direct assistance under the emergency relief exemption.” This means that drivers are not required to take 30-minute breaks and the regular 34-hour restart is not required. To help ensure safety, “once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.” Read more about the options provided by FMCSA on ELD devices.
Critical business concerns for fleets
How can businesses run efficient fleets in these pressing times? What are the practical steps to take care of your drivers' health? Watch the following webinars to hear from industry experts and editors.
- Businesses of any kind need to be prepared for any and all eventualities. Fleet businesses have the dual responsibility of running a business and an efficient fleet operation. With tenacity and intelligent tools, fleet businesses can tide over any emergency, and in fact use the downtime to prepare for the uptime.
Watch now: Help Build an Emergency-Ready Fleet | The How and Why of Leveraging Connected Fleet Technology
- Trucking and logistics keep medical supplies, groceries, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and much more moving through the supply chain during these tough times. Fleets are currently trying their best to keep drivers and employees safe and healthy and stay compliant with regulations while continuing to operate efficiently. In this webinar, Heavy Duty Trucking brings together a panel of industry experts to share what they’ve learned as they monitor the fast-changing conditions—such as the current regulatory landscape and what to expect with freight and the economy moving forward.
Watch now: What Fleets Need to Know Now About COVID-19
- While public fleets are providing essential duties during the pandemic, it’s no small task to pivot from normal to emergency operations. From technicians to management, fleet employees are at their jobsites, working to keep police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, trash trucks and other essential vehicles on the road. In this webinar, Government Fleet brings expertise from public fleet managers and leading consultants to help you tackle current operational challenges—including how to help keep employees and drivers safe, and how to handle the coming weeks and months.
Watch now: How Public Fleets Are Coping with COVID-19
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) General Duty Clause requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm—COVID-19 and its hazards included. In this unprecedented environment of managing a fleet during a pandemic, this webinar identifies the procedures and policies you should consider implementing to help reduce the risk to your employees and customers.
Watch now: Fleet Policies to Help Reduce COVID-19 Risks
Recent COVID-19 news
- Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has followed a phased approach. A panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended that “other essential workers”, including truck drivers, be included in Phase 1C vaccination priority. Phase 1C includes seniors ages 65 to 74 years old, people ages 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions, and other essential workers such as those working in transportation, food service, finance, and communications positions. Phase 1A included at least 24 million people, phase 1B will add another 49 million people and phase 1C will broaden eligibility to another 129 million. Indicating that demand could outweigh vaccine supply.
- The Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) has approved the use COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The Department of Transportation has recently taken measures to help ensure the safe, rapid transportation of the vaccine, including expanding the emergency exemption for trucking operations.
- The FMCSA has extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration until the end of the year to provide HOS relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting necessary goods in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These goods include food, raw materials, medical supplies, paper products and the supplies/equipment necessary for sanitization and community safety.
- Post-COVID shutdowns, pent-up consumer demand has boosted spot freight rates. However, a weak manufacturing sector means that things could turn downward again.
More industry updates
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidelines for commercial truck drivers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The trucking industry lost more than 88,000 jobs in April 2020, a 5.8% drop from March 2020. This was part of a record-setting 20.5 million job loss across the U.S., putting the nation’s overall unemployment rate at 14.7%.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance for essential workers to allow them to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19. The guidance covers "critical infrastructure workers," such as healthcare workers, law enforcement, transportation and logistics workers, provided they remain asymptomatic and take precautions to protect themselves and others.
- On April 9, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced members would cut oil production decrease by 10 million barrels per day—meaning recently low diesel prices may start heading back up.
- According to the CDC,current domestic travel advisories "do not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply."
- On March 24, the FMCSA issued a waiver for commercial drivers whose licenses/permits and/or medical cards have expired or are set to expire after March 1, 2020. The waiver is valid through June 30.
We will continue to update this post as latest news and resources are identified.