Truck drivers and trucking industry professionals have kept the United States economy running throughout the COVID pandemic. Drivers made sure that Americans got paper supplies, fuel, and food, especially when shortages were common at the beginning of lockdowns.
While the US is not experiencing dire shortages of essential goods, there are still issues with the supply chain. These sporadic shortages have spurred the Department of Transportation to investigate the issue.
DOT Asks for Feedback
The Department of Transportation must report to the White House regarding delays, disruptions, and shortages that stem from the supply chain. As part of that mission, the DOT is reaching out to the trucking industry and asking them to report on various issues.
The full thirteen points of inquiry for the DOT are available on the website for the Federal Register. The first point asks trucking officials to identify the following:
The identification of major infrastructure or operational bottlenecks and chokepoints across all aspects of the freight and logistics supply chain—including shipping/receiving, intermodal transfer, rail/water/truck transportation, warehousing, etc.—that slow or impede efficient cargo movement within the freight and logistics sector, and the most effective investments and management practice improvements that could be made to alleviate those bottlenecks.
There are 12 more areas of improvement after that. You can leave your comment on the website until October 18th.
The Supply Chain Problem
Despite the diligent work of truck drivers, the supply chain has been struggling with issues throughout the pandemic. In June, the Biden Administration announced a Supply Chain Disruption Task Force.
There are many theories, some intersecting, about why the supply chain is facing such problems. An article in the New Yorker specifically mentioned a lack of labor. One instance was mentioned in the ports of Southern California when 70 container ships were sitting offshore, waiting to drop off their cargo.
The problem there was a lack of dock workers and truck drivers to unload the cargo and drive it off the yard. The New Yorker also pointed to the recent semi-conductor chip shortage, which has affected computing devices and even automobiles.
An opinion piece in The Hill stated that the problem of supply chain shortages was one of “globalization run amok”. The argument made in The Hill was that the United States has decimated its home-grown manufacturing industries and is now far too reliant upon international shipping.
Regardless of the overall theory, changes need to be made. Truck drivers and trucking industry officials should let the DOT know their thoughts.