With new developments occurring every day, we’ve put together a brief summary of the impact that COVID-19 (also known as the Coronavirus) currently is having on the trucking industry, as well as the latest news. As always, Trucker Tools sends a big thank you to all of you truckers out there who are on the road, making sure our grocery store shelves are stocked and ensuring that our doctors, hospitals and EMTs have the equipment, medicines and supplies they need.

FMCSA Issues Emergency Declaration on Hours of Service Rules

Last Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared a national emergency, a first for the DOT agency. The declaration provides hours-of-service exceptions for commercial drivers who are hauling emergency relief freight in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Under the declaration, truckers can work a 14-hour days, 11 hours of which can be drive time. Truckers must rest for 10 consecutive hours to reset their daily clocks.

The exemption includes food for emergency restocking of stores, as well as supplies related to community safety and sanitization, including items like mask, gloves, sanitizer, soaps and disinfectants. Other situations that are covered by the exemption include: medical supplies and equipment involved in the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; supplies, people and equipment involved with the establishment and management of temporary housing, isolation and quarantine facilities; people designated by federal, state and local governments for medical or isolation purposes; and medical and emergency service workers.

For more information, read the FMSCA’s COVID-19 emergency declaration or contact your local DOT office.

Two Seattle Cargo Terminals Close, Layoffs at the Port of Los Angeles

On Tuesday, FreightWaves reported in its Daily Pickup newsletter that two cargo terminals at the Port of Seattle closed operations last Friday because of lack of demand. Outbound international container transportation out of the Port of Seattle is down more than 25% compared to last year. While there is good news coming out of China that drayage activity and manufacturing are on the upswing, the closures and reduction in outbound international containers in Seattle shows that it may take a while for a rebound to occur.

The Coronavirus pandemic is also affecting the Port of Los Angeles. Last week, 145 drivers who transport containers from the Port of Los Angeles to warehouses were laid off due to the decrease in shipments coming into the port from China. Independent owner operators in the area are seeing their pay reduced drastically and UPS drivers in LA also report that their hours and pay are being reduced due to declines in shipments.

Curfews, Rest Stop Closures and Suspension of Regulations at the State Level

JOC is reporting that on Monday, New Jersey will become the first state to impose a curfew on “non-essential, non-emergency travel between 8 pm and 5 am.” The curfew will have a major impact on stores that receive freight afterhours and will significantly increase the demand for daytime truck availability. Detention at grocery stores and cold storage facilities could grow as a result.  

On Tuesday, the State of Pennsylvania announced that it is closing all 35 of its highway rest stops, including parking access, effective immediately. This follows the State of Pennsylvania’s declaration of a state of emergency. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has suspended several commercial trucking regulations to ensure that grocery store shelves remain stocked while the state and country deal with the Coronavirus. Gov. Abbott has waived oversize and overweight restrictions on commercial trucks, as well as suspending requirements for International Registration Plans and 72-hour and 144-hour temp registration permits.

Update: The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has reversed its decision and will reopen all 17 of its service plazas’ restrooms and restore food service beginning on Friday, March 20, 2020. 

Now, more than ever, it’s important to have tools and strategies in place that help you continue to grow your business. For tips on how to use the free Trucker Tools driver app to remain competitive even during these uncertain times, read Five Tips for Increasing Efficiency in Your Trucking Business. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/.