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Top Trucking Concerns, Part 1: Covid Resilience


Change is constant. Convulsions are equally certain, although more sporadic. Among the many industries to have faced convulsive changes over the past five years is trucking.

In this first of a 3-part series about challenges facing the trucking industry, we consider the obstacles created by the coronavirus.

One recent survey indicated that 43 percent of truckers were worried about catching the virus on the road, observes Aaron Terrazas, director of economic research for Convoy, Inc. “They’re working on the front lines,” he says.

James Lee, vice president of legal affairs for Choptank Transport, Inc. in Preston, MD, says there have been “mixed responses” to the virus from truckers. “Some have been deathly afraid of it, and others question if it actually exists. The majority, however, recognize that it’s something to deal with, and do what is necessary to protect themselves and others they come into contact with,” notes Lee.

Eric Arling, executive director of operations for Cincinnati, OH-based Integrity Express Logistics, LLC, comments, “The carriers and drivers we work with are inherently resilient. That said, the responses have run the gamut from truckers feeling underappreciated to finally seeing national recognition for the important role they play in our country.

“I don’t know that their responses differ greatly from many others during Covid,” Arling adds. “Truckers are people first and foremost; they have the same concerns about the well being of their families, their health, and ability to earn a living as all Americans.”

The ramifications of Covid go beyond the danger of catching the virus.

“Our biggest concern has been that drivers haven’t been allowed on the dock to witness or supervise loading and unloading, and cannot verify the quantity and quality of the product being loaded onto their trailers,” notes Lee. “Yet many customers are still holding drivers responsible as if they had.”

Difficulties extend to matters of the utmost necessity. “The Covid issue has caused even more customers to refuse drivers access to their buildings,” remarks Jack Sawyer, president of Des Moines Transportation, Inc. in Des Moines, IA. “Some put in Porta Potties, but many have not.” Truckers, he adds, “just want to be treated with some respect.”

The impact of Covid is, of course, just one of many impacting the trucking industry.  In our next article, we’ll examine how the condition of U.S. roadways is adding expense and delays to transport freight.

Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.