Market Update for the Week of April 6th

Get important weekly updates on the market from Ryan Transportation’s Senior Vice President.

Apr 06, 2020

We hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy. As the U.S. continues to respond to COVID-19, we are doing our best to keep our customers updated on what that means for the markets.  Here are some things to consider this week:

Reduction in Truckload Volumes

The significant demand spikes from March have subsided. While some markets and lanes are still challenging, the overall volume is reduced. This is due in part to the closing of some manufacturing and distribution operations, as well as mandatory shutdowns in several states and metros around the country.

Implementation of Electronically Approved Shipping Documents

In response to COVID-19, many shippers and carriers are requesting that shipping documentation (Bills of Lading, delivery receipts, etc.) be signed electronically rather than via hardcopy documents. Keeping this in mind, communicating with all parties on any delivery exceptions (e.g. shortages, damage, etc.), will help establish a proper trail of documentation in the event of a future claim. As procedures and protocols change, everyone is asked to communicate in the best way possible for all parties in order to help reduce unnecessary risk of exposure while also mitigating service disruptions.

The Beginning of the First Produce Market

Produce season is right around the corner. We expect to see demand increase significantly in South Florida in the next couple of weeks. This will be the first produce market, with other states and regions following closely.

Responses from the Department of Transportation

As part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Department of Transportation is working to support all efforts to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to back the critical infrastructure needed to bring relief to all Americans. Here are some of their notable responses:

  • The Federal Department of Transportation issued an expanded national emergency declaration to provide HOS regulatory relief to drivers transporting emergency COVID-19 supplies, they issue a three-month CLP waiver and they are continuing to offer guidance and resources on how to navigate other areas disrupted by COVID-19 (e.g. drug and alcohol testing, shelter in place mandates, etc.).
  • State Departments of Transportation continue to evaluate and respond to a variety of fleet regulatory measures, including HOS, weight restrictions, etc. This includes granting temporary relief where appropriate.
  • The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance says the State Police will focus primarily on reactionary efforts, meaning they will pursue blatant safety infractions rather than performing enforcement campaigns (e.g. safety blitzes). Additionally, the annual CVSA International Roadcheck has been postponed. Originally scheduled for May 5-7, it will now take place at a later date (not yet determined).

Efficiencies That Have Been Lost and Gained

Efficiencies have been significantly lost due to a huge spike in one-way hauls, as carriers report a sharp increase in empty miles. Normal backhaul loads have been lost due to the disruption in freight flows (e.g. slowed manufacturing).

On the other hand, with many people staying home and off the roads, traffic has not been an issue for most drivers. This means trucks are making faster transit times, which potentially helps offset the longer loading and unloading times we’ve seen at facilities across the country.