Professional truck drivers are currently facing a surging demand like none other. As critical workers, they must put themselves in harm’s way on the front lines to make sure that essential medications, supplies, and foodstuffs are readily available to our communities in this time of need. During these unprecedented times, truckers need additional support to help ensure that they are successful. In particular, new and emerging technologies, like blockchain, can be beneficial. Keep reading for a full dive on the current trucking industry outlook and how we can be helping truckers in the COVID-19 era.

What the Trucking Industry Looks Like in the COVID-19 World

Currently, critical goods like soap, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper continue to be nearly impossible to find, with empty supermarket shelves further fueling the panic. As per Jennifer Smith at the Wall Street Journal, the trucking industry now faces the daunting task of replenishing these supplies as quickly as possible, all while facing new obstacles caused by COVID-19 including closed truck stops, a lack of sanitizing equipment and protective gear, and increased scrutiny at border crossings.

On the one hand, this increased demand has been beneficial in that rates for spot loads have been reported up. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently waived rules that limit how many hours a driver is allowed to be on the road in a continuous shift. These regulations were previously the source of much backlash in the trucking industry as drivers felt limited in their ability to perform on their own terms. Several complained that forcing them to sit idle when they were willing and capable of delivering more shipments was unfair and, ultimately, hurting all parties involved. But today, any trucker transporting essential goods or anything used to manufacture said items is exempt from the rules. It is yet to be seen whether or not previously-enforced regulations will go back into play once things with COVID-19 have died down. 

Additionally, as per Ian Duncan from the Washington Post, the lack of traffic has been instrumental in allowing truckers to deliver their shipments as quickly as possible. This is especially noteworthy as some of the most heavily-affected states (think California, New York, Illinois, and Washington) are notorious for their traffic congestion. The ability to deliver goods in a timely manner is of the utmost importance right now, especially in places where the cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing.

On the other hand, the global pandemic is creating new obstacles for the industry. Truckers are now facing more scrutiny than ever before at borders, and are increasingly being turned away if they have come from regions that are experiencing increased numbers of COVID-19 cases. Additionally, they do not have the ability to fully self-isolate themselves and often end up working long, exhausting shifts in what is often thankless work. 

How Blockchain Can Help the Trucking Industry in the COVID-19 Era

A considerable benefit of leveraging blockchain, particularly during a time of pandemic, is the switch from pen and paper to a digital ledger. COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets, so something like touching a pen that was used by someone with the illness can be extremely contagious. Additionally, people can be COVID-19 positive without showing any symptoms, so now more than ever, gloves, hand sanitizer, and touching as few things as possible are key. Switching from paper to electronic documentation for pickups and deliveries can not only save time but potentially, lives.

Additionally, blockchain can easily allow truckers to showcase where they’ve been and what routes they’ve taken. This will mean less scrutiny and fewer questions at borders, as everything will have already been easily and clearly documented in an immutable environment.

Lastly, shortages, in general, can be avoided by supply chains using blockchain. With the increased transparency, supply chain managers can clearly see where inventory needs to be allocated, thereby inadvertently decreasing the strain on the trucking industry. While truckers will continue to be critical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, if supply chains are operating more smoothly, there will be less pressure on truckers to fill shortages as inventory will be appropriately stocked.

To learn more about how to integrate blockchain technology into your truck or your supply chain, please get in touch with us at hello@shipchain.io.