The global road freight transport sector has been hit by falling demand for trucking due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. But to this day, it remains an active link in the economy of most countries in the world, since it is a priority industry for solving a health emergency.
The health protocols for truckers: a global overview
The creation of health protocols was born as a necessity to not only prioritize the delivery of essential goods but to guarantee the sanitary conditions in which truck drivers would find themselves operating amid the pandemic and will not fall into the sad category of “coronavirus truck drivers”.
The European Commission issues
The European Commission, in its series of recommendations for drivers and freight operator companies, issued that they are responsible for supplying disinfectant soap and gel to truckers. All necessary documentation must be sent digitally in advance to loading/unloading centers. And that the cab of the vehicles must be sanitized after each operator’s driving.
Spain guaranteed services to essential workers
To facilitate the work of transporters, Spain published in its plan of measures a specific list of restaurants and hotels that would remain in operation to offer services to essential workers. Likewise, it ordered that the establishments for the supply of fuel, food, and loading/unloading centers guarantee access to cleaning services and food for drivers and that repair and maintenance workshops of vehicles be kept open.
Italy stipulated reduction of contacts
Italy, in its protocol, established that truck drivers can only operate wearing gloves and face masks and that during the loading/unloading process they must remain in their vehicle or, on the contrary, maintain a distance of 1 m between operators. For the reception and preparation of goods, it is stipulated that work shifts be created between employees, to reduce contacts.
The USA measures for long-distance truckers
In the United States, the institution of the Centers for Disease Control issued the following measures for long-distance truckers. It is prohibited to share protective vests, safety glasses, etc. It is the must: washing and disinfection of open surfaces in the cab of a truck, food packages, potable water containers, fewer stops along the way, implementation of electronic invoicing in establishments, and loading/unloading centers.
Protocols in Latin America
In this region, some countries also published their guidelines for the continuity of cargo transport, the main characteristics of which are highlighted below.
Ecuador issued its protocol with the participation of 11 institutions between ministries and national agencies in charge of coordinating and executing it. Colombia, for its part, published a circular addressed to drivers and operators of the cargo transport logistics chain (among others), issued by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Transport.
Worker safety first!
In its protocol “Emergency Plan in Automotive Land Transportation of Passengers and Cargo — Covid-19”, the Government of Argentina, established as a mandatory for all transport companies the recruitment of personnel to operate during the pandemic taking into account the risk parameters of each worker as stipulated by the Ministry of Health.
Measures for loading/unloading of goods
Colombia issued measures for the different phases of the trucking process including the loading process during the trip, bypassing scales, staying overnight in a hotel, delivering the cargo while waiting in ports and when arriving home.
By looking at the trucking industry we can evaluate the economics of the whole country, as it is its lifeblood. Every single product we enjoy or need was delivered to us by a truck.No trucks on the road would mean big trouble for the economy.
We were already in pretty bad shape before COVID-19 was officially a problem in the USA. Low freight rates and high insurance premiums were making owner-operators quit their businesses a lot of companies went under and had to fire drivers.
After quarantine was implemented and a truck driver becomes an essential worker the same way as a first responder and medical personnel.
There was a hope that there will be a change and there will be more appreciation for essential work trucker does for our community.
But the only ones in the trucking industry making great money are the brokers. The broker is still getting the same money from the customer but can get a cheaper truck. Every trucker that is trying to keep his business afloat is forced to move freight for cheap.
This is killing small trucking, and somebody in the government may have to intervene and do something about this issue.
Lowering insurance premiums and increasing load rates is critical to keep trucking companies running. Let’s hope something is going to change soon and our drivers will get the pay they deserve otherwise we may face even bigger problems for our economy soon.