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Supply Chain News: Truckers Key to Keeping Flow of Goods Coming, but Face Many Hurdles

 

Trucker Cannot get Food from the McDonald's Drive Thru

March 19, 2020
SCDigest Editorial Staff
     

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis comes unprecedented consumer demand for everything from meat to – of course – toilet paper.

For the most part, manufacturers and suppliers are doing a pretty good job of keeping stores shelves stocked, even in if in some product categories they are rapidly scooped up by nervous consumers.

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"They are not allowed to use the restroom, not allowed to use the building," Allen added. "They don't want drivers in the facilities."


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All of those goods depend on trucking to get them from the factory to the retailer's distribution center and then on from there to stores. And right now, truckers face many hurdles.

On a talk radio show in Cincinnati this week, one trucker noted that it was very hard to find restaurants to feed himself on his day-long routes moving goods. This driver did find a McDonald's where the drive-thru was open, but of course his rig was too big to pull through.

So he walked through – only to be told the store's policy was to not serve anyone not in a vehicle. The trucker was rescued when the person in the car behind him said he would buy the trucker's lunch.

Life during war time.

Getting food for truckers is a key challenge. While most truckstops remain open, many have shut down their sit down areas, though to-go meals are generally available.

A report from the Wall Street Journal this week noted truckers are encountering additional challenges when picking up or dropping off freight.

 

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That report said some customers are asking drivers to stay in their trucks or switch from paper to electronic methods to document pickups and deliveries. What's more, some trucking companies said their drivers are facing new restrictions at receiving docks if they have been in states considered coronavirus hot zones.

"Some of the shippers and receivers are asking drivers to sign affidavits that they are not sick," Linda Allen, owner of Florida-based Hardcore Trucking, told the Journal.

"They are not allowed to use the restroom, not allowed to use the building," Allen added. "They don't want drivers in the facilities."

The drivers themselves are contributing to part of the overall logistics challenge, with some unwilling to haul loads to states such as New York or Washington where the number of coronavirus cases is high.

That's in part because when they go to other states, they are stopped at the gate and asked where they have been, and could have their load rejected if they had stops in high incident areas.

Then there are parking issues. For example, on Tuesday, Pennsylvania closed its state-run rest stops, removing a large number of parking spots for rest and sleep along some very truck-heavy corridors. A day later, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said it would reopen 13 rest areas by Thursday for truck parking with portable toilets that would be cleaned once a day.

American Trucking Associations president Chris Spear wrote a letter to the Trump administration requesting some specific steps that it said will help the trucking industry in its efforts to keep stores and medical facilities stocked with supplies.

That includes exempting trucking from some policies being implemented to thwart the spread of the virus, to keep rest stops open, and to consider process for testing drivers for the virus.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has already relaxed Hours of Service regulations in order to keep the flow of goods moving.


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