ECONOMIC WATCH: Survey confirms Covid-19’s negative impact on trucking

by Today's Trucking

ATRI LOGOATLANTA, Ga. – The Covid-19 pandemic already had a considerable negative impact on the U.S. trucking industry, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The poll of nearly 5,100 people was jointly conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) Foundation.

“The trucking industry has weathered national disasters in the past, and is doing so again through the current Covid crisis,” said ATRI president and COO Rebecca Brewster.

“However, this latest data quantify the challenges motor carriers and drivers are facing during this pandemic to keep essential goods moving.”

Key findings:

  • Long-haul trips are down considerably as container imports at ports dried up. At the same time, local trips under 100 miles increased by more than 100%.
  • While certain segments of the industry, such as medical devices, perishable foods and paper products, saw solid pandemic-related increases in truck traffic, nearly 50% of respondents described freight levels as “somewhat” to “much” lower due to Covid-19.
  • Nearly 70% of specialized and tank truck operations were negatively impacted. In nearly every instance, smaller fleets reported greater negative impacts than larger fleets.
  • The research confirmed that driver detention generally did not change due to Covid-19; however, owner-operators and small fleets experienced much worse detention delays relative to larger fleets.
  • In terms of disaster planning, almost 80% of owner-operators and small fleets do not have any plan in place for managing operations during natural disasters.

“This research puts solid numbers to what we otherwise only suspected,” said Andrew King, research analyst for the OOIDA Foundation.

“While we may be turning the corner on the Covid pandemic, we’re not out of the economic woods yet.”

Click here for the full report.

America’s 3.5 million truck drivers deliver 71% of all freight, generating $797 billion in gross revenue.

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