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Covid-19 and the Haulage Industry

There’s no doubt that society is facing confusing and unprecedented times. With the Coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread, many industries have seen their operations changed or stifled altogether. However, the haulage sector is far too crucial to the country for it to fail, and without drivers on the roads, each day making deliveries, essential supplies of food, PPE, and medicines would not reach their destination.

The Problems Covid-19 Is Revealing

Even at the best of times, the haulage industry comes with its fair share of problems, but the Covid-19 pandemic has added unique issues to the mix. Some of the problems include:

Driver Shortage

If you have been keeping up with our previous blog posts, then you know that the UK has had a long history of driver shortages. And with the outbreak of the disease, demand for HGV operators and delivery drivers has grown more than ever, and subsequent issues worsened.

It is made that bit more challenging since enlisting new drivers is time-consuming, and more importantly, will entail a medical test that’s quite problematic. This means that getting new delivery drivers cat C licenses is challenging and will take time, and it is something that can’t be rushed.

Medical Exams

At the moment, medical professionals and doctors have been stretched to their limit as they try to keep the country healthy and alive. So it’s logical that conducting a routine medical examination is the last thing they are thinking about. However, getting medical exams are an essential part of getting and keeping your HGV licence, since they assure the safety of drivers on the roads for extended periods.

Access to Facilities

The coronavirus is a new disease and has been flagged up by delivery drivers.
Drivers have had legal grounds for using hand-washing facilities and toilets within commercial areas since 2017 when they make deliveries. This is to guarantee the health and safety of drivers, as well as those who are getting the delivery.

But most companies are now against this, citing health and safety concerns around the coronavirus. Even though this is understandable, drivers are being exposed to risk since they aren’t able to comply with government guidelines and measures around hand-washing – hence more at risk of contracting and spreading the deadly virus.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Fortunately for the haulage industry, there seems to be a light at the end. Salvation has come in the form of slightly eased regulations. If you happen to be a professional driver or have been reading our blog for some time, then you are aware that there are stringent limitations on the duration drivers can stay on the road for a day, week and month, as well as when breaks should be taken and the duration of the breaks. This measure is in place to make sure the driver is rested and also to prevent burnout, which can result in a lot of problems for the company, themselves, and other road users.

But during these unprecedented times, the Department for Transport stated they would relax some of these regulations to enable haulage companies to keep up with the increased demand for service deliveries. Drivers of vehicles that fall under this purview include those involved with delivering food, non-food (household paper and personal care and cleaning) and over the counter medication when making the following journeys:

  • Distribution centre to fulfilment centres or stores
  • From manufacturers or suppliers to distribution centres (this includes backhaul collections)
  • From manufacturers or suppliers to fulfilment centres
  • Transport hub deliveries to stores
  • Between transport hub trunking and distribution centres

To be clear, these relaxed regulations only apply to professional and commercial deliveries – not drivers that deliver their products to consumers’ doorstep. They are required to adhere to the previous regulations around drive breaks and time.