Joint Research Confirms COVID-19 Impact on Trucking

           ATRI, OOIDA Identify Industry Impacts and Recommendations

Contact: Dan Murray
(651) 641-6162
May 5, 2020

The American Transportation Research Institute and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association Foundation today released important research on impacts that the Covid pandemic is having on all aspects of trucking operations, including deliveries, travel times, detention and truck parking. Most importantly, the research provides recommendations and guidance on future strategies should another national disaster strike. “The trucking industry has weathered national disasters in the past, and is doing so again through the current COVID crisis,” said ATRI President and COO Rebecca Brewster. “However, this latest data quantifies the challenges motor carriers and drivers are facing during this pandemic to keep essential goods moving.” Key findings include:

  • Long-haul trips are down considerably as container imports at ports dried up. At the same time, local trips under 100 miles increased by more than 100 percent.
  • While certain segments of the industry, such as medical devices, perishable foods and paper products, saw solid Covid-related increases in truck traffic – nearly 50 percent of respondents described freight levels as “somewhat” to “much” lower due to Covid. 
  • Nearly 70 percent of specialized and tank truck operations were negatively impacted. In nearly every instance, smaller fleets reported greater negative impacts than larger fleets.
  • More than 40 percent of respondents said that truck parking was not any worse due to the Covid pandemic, but by fleet size, the larger fleets did describe truck parking as more difficult to find during the pandemic.
  • The research confirmed that driver detention generally did not change due to Covid; however, owner-operators and small fleets experienced much worse detention delays relative to larger fleets.
  • In terms of disaster planning, almost 80 percent of owner-operators and small fleets do not have any plan in place for managing operations during natural disasters.
  • The trucking industry generally has a favorable attitude towards state and federal responses, policies and programs set up to address the pandemic, with the federal response viewed as more favorable than the state responses.
  • The trucking industry’s perceptions about the country’s economic situation over the next several months leans slightly pessimistic – both in terms of freight movement and consumer spending.

“This research puts solid numbers to what we otherwise only suspected,” said Andrew King, Research Analyst for the OOIDA Foundation. “While we may be turning the corner on the Covid pandemic, we’re not out of the economic woods yet.”  You can download the full report by clicking here.

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

OOFI is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. It was established to provide research and education for all truckers focusing on the small carriers and owner-operators. OOFI is an affiliate of OOIDA and its 160,000 members from all 50 states.