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COVID-19: Impact on Trucking Companies, Economy and Trade

By Verizon ConnectMarch 31, 2020
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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 enforcing 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 is facing extreme challenges. Supply chain disruptions and nationwide emergency delivery needs are causing fleet managers, dispatchers and drivers to work longer hours, while hauling in other areas, such as restaurant supply and equipment for live events, has ceased. And according to this article in Heavy Duty Trucking, drivers are struggling to protect their health while out 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 weeks 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,” said Verizon Connect President Andrés Irlando.

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

On March 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service (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—including those items that have been in the highest demand around the country such as water and hand sanitizer.

The declaration was updated on March 18 to include fuel haulers, and an expanded declaration on March 21 states that any “motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks are granted emergency relief.”

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.

More industry updates

  • 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.
  • The federal government has released a list of those “critical infrastructure industries” whose workers are “essential”.
  • Currently, the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are closed to nonessential traffic—but trade and commercial traffic are still on the move.
  • Rest areas on some of the busiest routes have already started to reopen, hopefully providing some relief to truckers after long hours on the road.
  • A number of major automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, Ford, Tesla and Fiat Chrysler have suspended production at their North American manufacturing facilities until at least March 30.
  • Other manufacturers have since followed suit, including Goodyear, Bridgestone and Michelin.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department, IRS and U.S. Department of Labor have announced a plan to implement paid leave for workers and tax credits for businesses to help recover the costs of COVID-19 related leave. The tax credits will apply to small and midsize employers, reimbursing them for paid employee leave.
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve Board has announced a number of measures to support the economy and allow banks to continue lending.
  • The Department of Transportation has issued guidance on drug and alcohol testing for federally regulated transportation workers—this may help fleets and commercial drivers if they face challenges complying with regulations during the pandemic.

We will continue to update this post as additional news and resources are identified.

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Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Customer Service, Safety