COVID-19 and the Trucking Industry

As states begin to reopen, trucking companies are hopeful business will improve for them. It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has had some sort of impact on every industry in the world, and the trucking industry is no different.  

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently looked at the impacts of COVID-19 on the trucking industry by assessing truck activity between February 9, 2020 to April 18, 2020.

According to ATRI, they were able to do this by converting its real-time truck GPS dataset into a truck activity index. Six states were analyzed: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. Truck activity spiked for all six states in early to mid-March, but  are  down an average of 8-10% from early February. ATRI President and COO Rebecca Brewster said, “The GPS data we use is a valuable tool into what is going on in the economy and the trucking industry right now. We knew from talking to drivers and carrier executives that there were significant impacts on operations as a result of COVID-19, but now, by analyzing this data we are able to put numbers and data to feelings and anecdotes.”

States are slowly beginning to ease lockdown orders and the trucking industry may see a positive impact because of it. DAT Freight & Analytics reported that some of their near-term data suggests the decline in load posts is slowing, and short-term rates flattened for both trailer types, signaling that market conditions may be testing a new, lower support level. They went on to say, “those are hopeful signs but it’s too early to know whether the trend will hold. As the first states expect to rescind shelter-in-place orders as soon as next week, the inflection point could emerge very soon. As we noted last week, the timing and speed of the economic restart will be important factors in the recovery of freight markets.” Also, according to DAT, reefer equipment demand is increasing due to produce harvests beginning in California which could be a positive sign that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


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