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Effects of Coronavirus on the Trucking Industry

Mariela CorellaMariela Corella

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the way we live and how industries work. The health industry is at its maximum capacity with doctors, nurses and all hospital staff working long hours to treat infected patients. Stay at home orders have forced everyone to order their groceries and other products online and have them delivered to their doorstep. This has increased the demand for food delivery services such as Instacart, DoorDash, Amazon, and others. Truck drivers and food couriers help the American population stay safe by delivering the products we need to fight the outbreak.

Hours of Service Regulations Have Been Lifted

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has lifted the Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations to truck drivers transporting critical products such as medical supplies, food, and other important household items. This is an effort by our authorities to ensure that important supplies are delivered to people and organizations that need them to fight the outbreak, without being constrained by how many continuous hours a truck driver can work for. HOS rules were established to protect truck drivers from trucking companies with strict schedules which forced them to work long hours to meet a deadline. HOS rules establish how many hours of rest a driver must log in before being able to work again. For example, a driver can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 consecutive hours.

Disregarding the HOS rules means that truck drivers are not legally required to take breaks after long work periods. Fortunately, these changes are only temporary and may be necessary to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. However, not following HOS rules could be dangerous for drivers who are working long hours with no breaks. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, a trucker could be involved in a  delivery truck accident if they don’t take the necessary breaks between shifts.

Demand Remains High For Truckers

Unlike other businesses that have been seriously affected by the pandemic, demand in the trucking industry remains high. No more than ever, the American population depends on drivers to deliver vital goods so we can minimize the population’s exposure to the virus. Companies like Amazon, Instacart, and DoorDash, who deliver grocery, takeout, and other products right to your door, have seen their market grow substantially during these times and plan to hire 300,000 new employees over the next three months to keep up with demand. This means that more delivery truck drivers will continue to be employed during the pandemic. However, this also puts drivers at risk of being infected as they will continue to interact with doormen, building managers, suppliers, etc. It’s important for trucking companies to ensure the safety of their employees by providing the necessary protective material such as face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and more.

Keeping our Drivers Safe

As consumers, we can also take safety precautions to ensure that postal workers, truck drivers, delivery truck drivers, and other courier service workers remain healthy. If you are ordering takeout make sure you choose a “contactless delivery” option, most food delivery services are now offering this. This avoids direct contact with the person in case one of you is carrying the disease. If you are shopping online, try to buy everything in a single order, this will avoid a delivery person making multiple trips to your address and avoids unnecessary exposure to the virus. As soon as you receive your packages, make sure you wash your hands and discard any boxes or bags that came with it. Drivers are risking their lives to make sure that we have the food and other products we need during the outbreak, make sure you thank them by tipping them and protecting their health as well.

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