With the COVID-19 outbreak, truck drivers are left wondering what’s next. Store shelves are running bare, and testing kits need to be delivered, but at the same time, there are calls for self-quarantine and reduced work hours across the nation. Will your carrier company suspend scheduled routes? Will they need your services to handle emergency relief efforts? And how can you keep your family afloat through the uncertainty? Here are some things truck drivers can expect over the next couple of months while the country responds to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 State of Emergency changed hours of service regulations
On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a state of national emergency in response to COVID-19. Later that same day, the FMCSA responded with an emergency declaration of its own, easing hours of service regulations. Until April 12, 2020 (or longer, if extended), hours of service limitations are lifted for any driver transporting goods or people as part of the COVID-19 relief effort. This change only applies to loads that qualify!
Once a driver has completed a qualifying emergency relief transport job, he or she must rest for 10 hours if carrying goods, or 8 hours if carrying people. Other limitations apply, as well. Be sure to verify the current regulations with your dispatcher before hitting the road. Also, use your best judgment while driving. If you feel fatigued, take a rest. Our country needs emergency goods, but we also need you and our roadways to stay safe!
You’re probably going to feel the disruption of the supply chain
With global shutdowns in place, port shipping, especially on the West Coast, is severely under capacity. As our local, state and federal governments try to stop the spread of COVID-19, they may place more restrictions on the goods that come from other countries. That means carriers will have fewer loads coming from ports. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no work to be had.
America depends on the movement of food and goods, and right now, supplies are low in hospitals, facilities, and retail stores across the nation. Truckers can expect more final-mile delivery needs over the next couple of months as distributors attempt to keep shelves stocked. If your normal gig is suspended or your hours have been severely impacted, you might have better luck taking local routes to help keep the supply of goods — and your career — moving.
Follow the CDC and WHO best practices to help contain COVID-19
As schools shut down across the nation, places of worship move to online services, stores reduce hours, and businesses close, it might feel a little overwhelming. Remember, your best strategy is to stay calm and follow best practices. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face. If you are sick, wear a mask in public, and don’t go to work.
Even though trucking is, by its nature, a solitary job, truckers who work when sick could spread the COVID-19 virus. Currently, health officials recommend a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone who has a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. If you are concerned about illness, follow the current CDC guidelines to get testing and/or seek medical care, and learn more about the virus on the World Health Organization website. Note that the CDC and WHO recommendations change as new information comes to light, so check back often!
Find work through F|Staff during the COVID-19 emergency
As drivers call off sick, or stay home due to school closures, carrier companies find themselves in a bind. They need drivers to keep vital goods moving throughout our community. If you have hours of service to fill, F|Staff can connect you directly to carriers who are struggling to find drivers. It’s a win/win/win… you get to work, the carrier gets to move their goods, and the community gets essential items to keep people protected and fed through and beyond COVID-19.
If you’re already on F|Staff, make sure you’re signed on and marked as available to take work whenever you want to drive. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can start the process by filling out the simple form online.
There is a lot of uncertainty and doubt in the country right now, but one thing is for sure: truck drivers drive everything. Your services are seen and appreciated, and together, we’ll make it through.