Category: essential

Low Rates During the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Hurting Drivers

low-rates-during-coronavirus-pandemic-are-hurting-drivers

On May 1st, a convoy of more than 70 trucks gathered on Constitution Ave. in our nation’s capital to protest the low freight rates that are crippling an industry already damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Rates have fallen to unsustainable lows with truck load rates down from an average of $1.79 per mile in Feb. 2020, to an expected $1.51 in May.  The protesters aren’t asking for changes in the rates but rather, more transparency when it comes to freight brokers.  Drivers have the same overhead they had before the virus hit―truck payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs, repair bills, etc. It is all still there.  Despite the lowered rates, many freight brokers are charging the same commission as before so the protesters are asking for more government regulation.  The drivers are asking that Congress require brokers to provide transparent transaction records upon service completion and eliminate clauses that keep drivers from accessing them.  

There have been some ease of restrictions for drivers who are hauling freight that’s considered essential, the 14-hour limit has been waived so the restriction doesn’t prevent necessities from being delivered quickly, but it’s not enough.  With the closure of bars, restaurants, and many stores, freight isn’t moving like it was before the pandemic so there are fewer available loads and many carriers and drivers, especially smaller operations, are really struggling.  Drivers who can find loads are barely breaking even.  With the major hit to the number of loads, drivers are finding it more difficult to fill deadhead miles and are returning with empty trailers.    For others, it’s more profitable to park their trucks.  

Of course, those who do get loads are opening themselves up to getting the virus.  With so many drivers prone to obesity and who smoke, they may be at greater risk for developing severe symptoms or even dying from the disease. Many owner/operators have chosen to stay home over contracting the virus driving through “hot spots” in states where the virus is more prevalent.  

As we gain control over the virus and the country begins to open up again, there may be lasting damage to the trucking industry.  Even when demand grows in this country, much of the freight comes from overseas, leaving us dependent on the re-opening of other countries so recovery may be slow getting off the ground.  When it does, there’s a real fear that after businesses begin to reopen and the demand for drivers climbs that many drivers will simply not return.  

The protesters in Washington, D.C. are looking for fairness, that if load rates are less during this time, freight broker rates will be less too.  They aren’t looking for Congress to step in and do something about the declining rates because, even with all the punches this virus has inflicted on the trucking industry, there’s still the belief that with recovery of the American people, recovery in the economy, recovery of our nation, will come the recovery of the trucking industry.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that can make finding profitable loads easier.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!    

Truck Drivers Are More Essential Than Ever

blog-image-template
One thing the coronavirus has made abundantly clear is that certain occupations simply cannot take a break because they are too vital to the people of this country to keep everything moving. Of these, doctors, nurses, and other workers in the health industry are the heroes fighting the enemy on the front line for those who have contracted the virus. Then there are those who are keeping the shelves stocked so we have food and other necessities to keep the rest of the country going during the crisis. We’re grateful for all of them.

However, there’s one group of workers behind the curtain that make all of that possible, those who supply food for the shelves and medical supplies for hospitals―truck drivers.

Truck drivers truly are the backbone of our country and without them, everything would grind to a halt. Throughout the pandemic, drivers are putting in long hours and facing possible exposure to the virus, all so essential workers can do their essential work.   Our entire infrastructure relies on them.

Difficulties on the Road

Life on the road in the shadow of the coronavirus has become more complicated for drivers.  Essential freight is still moving so for drivers hauling food and hospital supplies, work is plentiful. But with the construction industry coming to a halt, and stores and small businesses deemed non-essential shuttering their doors, drivers who haul goods to these businesses are struggling.

For drivers still out on the road, dine-in restaurants at truck stops have closed, leaving weary drivers with no place to relax and recharge outside of their truck.  Some have been able to leave their showers and laundry services open for drivers. Some have closed altogether. With fast-food restaurants closing their dining rooms, drivers have had to adjust their eating habits. Trucks don’t fit through the drive-thru lanes and if they park and walk up to the window, some refuse to serve them. Palmdale Sheriff’s office tweeted:  “If you happen to be sitting in your car eating because the dining room is closed, & see a truck driver attempt to pull on a door, please ask if you can buy them a meal. Most places do not allow walk ups, and their rigs usually don’t fit. We owe them that much!”

Because meals are unpredictable, more drivers are now bringing their own food on the road and preparing it with their own microwaves, cookers, and coffee makers.

Relief May Be On the Way

A proposal by Senate Democrats for a COVID- 19 Heroes Fund would provide eligible front line workers up to $25,000 in hazard pay for those deemed essential during the crisis such as medical workers, truck drivers, grocers, transit workers, and essential federal employees. While still in its early stages, this proposal speaks for many who believe something needs to be done for the dedicated workers who put themselves in harm’s way every day.  In the meantime, we wait for the curve to flatten.

Through this crisis and the economic recovery when it follows, drivers are unsung heroes.  So when people talk of the heroic front line, remember where their supplies are coming from.  And the next time you reach for a new roll of toilet paper, thank a truck driver!

Direct Freight Services is an essential tool for shippers, freight brokers, and carriers that allows users to post or find trucks and includes many features that will help move freight smoothly and efficiently.  Go to DirectFreight.com today to find out more.

Sources:

https://www.democrats.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Heroes%20Fund%20FINAL%204.7.20.pdf