By John Woods, Vice President and National Practice Group Leader, Transportation, Burns & Wilcox
We’re living in an extraordinary time right now. The arrival of COVID-19 has equalized the basic needs all Americans have: available healthcare services and medical equipment at area hospitals; cleaning supplies to disinfect our homes and essential workplaces; and food and water at nationwide grocery stores.
For each and every one of those needs, we rely on the trucking industry to deliver – now more than ever.
When everyone else throughout the U.S. is being told to stay home, truck drivers are heading out to work, joining members of the military and National Guard, first responders, doctors and nurses, supermarket workers, and a select few other essential industries. While the American Trucking Association estimates that there are about 3.5 million drivers in the country, there have been truck driver shortages in recent years, which can complicate the process.
In short, our truck drivers deserve our respect. In an environment changing by the hour, these transportation companies and their drivers need to operate with even more fluidity and versatility than normal. They are a vital cog in supporting the stressed supply chains we’re currently experiencing.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and leading trucking trade organizations have taken several proactive steps to address the demand that COVID-19 is having on businesses and consumers. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has temporarily waved the Hours of Service Rule for commercial drivers to allow critical goods and services to be transported when needed every day.
What hasn’t changed is the type of insurance coverage available to trucking companies. The same polices and coverage options that were in place a month ago remain. Insurance wholesalers and carriers are still supporting these needs online and by phone, often doing so from home-based offices.
A crisis reminds us what really matters and in this one, our truck drivers are on the front lines. It’s easy right now to be thankful to these drivers in our nation’s time of need. However, let’s be sure we always remember they are essential to our economy and personal well-being—365 days of the year.
We all can show them our gratitude by giving them what they need to complete their vital tasks. Our team is here to help any way we can. Stay healthy! Thank a trucker when you can in the days ahead. We’ll all get through this together.