Priorities have shifted in American households. Formerly must-have items have taken a back seat to necessities, such as stocking up on toilet paper and food, and this has changed the nature of cargo shipments.
Additionally, some truck stops are closing, while shippers/receivers are implementing checkpoints.
The pandemic has changed many aspects of the trucking industry, so here is a brief overview on some of the larger trends along with a new report.
According to the Vice President of Trucking for FTR Transportation Intelligence, Avery Vise, “For much of the industry, the best way to describe the crisis is whiplash”.
FTR Transportation Intelligence generates industry forecasts and analysis for the trucking industry. Based on what they are seeing, swift changes in product demand continues to occur.
According to FTR Transportation Intelligence, trucking companies initially saw a large growth in freight shipments because grocery stores needed tore-supply food and other staples (such as toilet paper) that ran out due to panic. But after a couple of weeks, the demand for these products fell, while the rest of freight also stalled out due to the economic shutdown.
Vice said, “The trucking industry… has never seen such an abrupt deterioration.
Checkpoints and Traffic
In addition to haul frequency changes, additional checkpoints are creeping up everyday, but not necessarily for truckers. These checkpoints are usually set up at weigh stations.
While semi-trucks are usually exempt, the checkpoints themselves may slowdown truck drivers.
Fortunately for truckers though, traffic has also drastically decreased due to the stay-at-home orders. So overall, truck drivers are able to run more miles due to lower traffic if the work is available.
Recent COVID-19 Trucking Report
From February 9th to April 18th, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) and the American Trucking Association (ATA) collected data from truck GPS data as they covered approximately six states.
The report recently issued by the ATRI and ATA on April 22nd reveals much of what we already know. There was a huge spike in hauls, which dwindled into almost exclusively non-perishable food, paper products,and medical supplies in April.
Fortunately, there has been a noteworthy uptick in the data.
California was among the first to issue the stay-at-home order. This state had an 8.3% decline in truck activity from the start of February to April, but they experienced a rise in hauls the week of March 1st.
A week later, Florida, New York, and Illinois experienced a spike inactivity as well, however, the overall percentage of hauls decreased by 10%. Data from other states, such as Pennsylvania and Washington,also depicted similar results with their increase in hauls occurring on March 15th.
The ATRI and ATA hope to use their data about the various types of freight and the most active locations to keep the trucking industry running during this difficult time.