27 Apr This week in trucking good news: April 27th, 2020
Lately, it may seem like all news is bad news. We disagree. While the bad news is taking the spotlight, good news is standing just outside of the spotlight. Take a quick look at the good news in the transportation industry over the last week. While doing so, make sure you’re standing 6 feet away from your neighbor!
Freightwaves weighed in on the recent spike in driver appreciation. While good carriers consistently show their drivers the respect and appreciation they deserve, the general public often takes them for granted. From getting cut off on the highway to a lack of consideration at gas stations and rest stops, truckers rarely get the spotlight that they deserve. In this time of crisis, Americans from every walk of life are showing some love. Children are painting “Thank you, drivers” signs, good samaritans are passing out hot meals to drivers at rest stops, and businesses are opening up their parking lots to big rigs that need somewhere to park. Many in the industry are hoping this sparks a lasting change in the public eye.
Amid the stress that drivers are under right now, states and our federal government are letting up on some restrictions at rest stops. As an effort to make things easier for truckers, the FHWA has suspended a rule barring food trucks from operating at rest stops that receive federal funding. This means more food options for drivers that are sick of resorting to the Subway or Burger King inside the gas station. Arizona recently re-opened two rest stops that have been closed since 2002 and 2009 in order to give truckers more space to park, walk around, and stretch their legs. Many states have placed portable washroom facilities at rest stops so drivers have more access to sinks and clean restrooms.
On the good news from an operational perspective, freight futures are up from last week on long hauls in every region of the United States. The national rate per mile is up 0.93% on average, with some regions seeing an increase as high as 1.48%. As the industry saw a scare last week and the week prior, it’s beginning to settle down and normalize. As Transport Topics noted, rates seem to be stabilizing.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has been very vocal in her efforts to assist truck drivers lately. In every press conference she has given since mid-March, she has referenced the fact that we’re all able to live our lives and support our families because truck drivers are working hard to keep shelves stocked. The DOT has already taken steps to help drivers like easing HOS regulations in March. But they aren’t stopping there, Chao says. They’re planning many more projects to assist drivers. One such project already in talks is using part of the $2.2 trillion relief package to repair roads, spruce up rest stops, and make signage easier for drivers to follow around the country. In times like this, it’s nice to know that our industry is being watched, appreciated, and assisted.
As previously mentioned, the government passed a massive $2.2 trillion relief bill recently. Part of that bill allows fleets of less than 500 employees to easily receive loans to maintain their payroll and keep their employees paid. As long as the business honors their commitment to employ their team without layoffs, the loans are forgivable. Carriers across the country are already utilizing this to keep their drivers and office employees afloat, easing their worries about their next paycheck.
In times of crisis, the good in people and companies seems to come to light more often. Industry titans FreightWaves and Truckstop have teamed up to provide operations personnel in the trucking industry with some great tools to keep their drivers moving as normal. Truckstop clients will have free access to FreightWaves’ SONAR freight market intelligence and forecasting platform for one full month. This will allow planners and brokers with more ability to forecast and plan loads for their drivers, allowing for better efficiency. As we’re going through a time that is rarely seen, historical data isn’t as useful. Trucking and logistics companies need real-time data to keep their trucks moving, and FreightWaves and Truckstop are reaching out to help.