Webinar Q&A: "Coming Out of COVID-19: Strategies to Mitigate Risk"

Did you have a chance to attend our recent webinar panel, "Coming Out of COVID-19: Strategies to Mitigate Risk"? We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted time frame, so our expert panelists have answered them below in this Q&A-style blog post. If you weren’t able to join the live webinar, don’t worry  – you can watch it on-demand anytime!

Question: When will the business recover and be back on track 100%?

Answer: The demand for freight has been positive for the past few weeks. This points to a slight recovery from the April - May timeframe. The pace at which we are recovering is much slower than the rapid decline experienced by many. The good news is the rates appear to be up slightly. 

One of the key recovery factors is to remain cautiously optimistic. We have seen a resurgence of COVID-19 after the Memorial Day Weekend and we don’t know if the same will occur after the 4th of July celebrations. If the numbers and hospitalization increase there is the possibility of panic buying and this will also affect the movement of freight again. 

Most experts seem to agree that it will take about 12 months to rebound fully. The only question is at what month do you start counting.

Question: Of the various FMCSA waivers and exemptions currently in place, which ones (if any) does the panel think stand the best chance of remaining after COVID-19 has run its course? Pros / cons?

Answer: While all of the waivers and exemptions are designed to allow operation in the middle of a pandemic, none are really a long-term solution. As Steve pointed out, actually changing the regulations would require an official rule-making process, and that would take years. 

The Emergency Declaration is used to allow Direct Assistance for emergency goods. As the pandemic subsides, this Declaration will be lifted.

The waiver on allowing DOT Physicals not to be renewed will also eventually be removed. It is important to have qualified drivers with regular medical exams.

The waivers for SDLA (State Driver Licensing Agencies) will be removed as it is necessary in regular business to downgrade licenses, update medical certificates and licenses in a timely manner.

The waiver for Pre-Employment drug testing is really an afterthought after some carriers complained about the cost of bringing drivers back to work after being off-duty over 30 days. The extension to 90 days is a fair temporary exception, but like the others does not make sense in normal operating times.

A note of caution: all of the waivers come with additional parameters and instructions for extra accident reporting while claiming them. While they may offer breathing room in certain circumstances, best practice is still to go about normal operation whenever possible and be held by the restrictions of the waivers.

Question: How much PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is needed for drivers to remain safe during this time?

Answer: The best answer is to follow the CDC guideline. It is not just about PPE, but it is the proper use of PPE that is most important. Training on the proper use of PPE and avoiding potential exposure has been conducted by several companies that transport hazardous materials. Those companies have a fairly robust training program and policies. That level of training may not be necessary for hauling regular freight, but companies would be better protected if they develop a policy and training for proper use of PPE. PPE alone cannot ensure the drivers safety, however effective communication on proper sanitation and protocol is something every trucking company should have in place.

Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog or follow us on LinkedIn for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.

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