Transportation Agencies Share their Response to COVID-19
It’s been more than 100 years since the world last experienced a viral pandemic of this magnitude. During the Spanish Flu of 1918, automobiles were for the elitists and the commercial trucking industry was just in its infancy. Back then, the majority of truck manufacturers that produce today’s trucks hadn’t been founded yet.
When COVID-19 first began to spread across North America in mid-March, there was no ‘playbook’ for transportation agencies to go off of to determine the best course of action in dealing with the pandemic. Industry leaders were presented the difficult task in ensuring essential freight would continue to be delivered while protecting those on the road.
During a webinar, hosted by Drivewyze, the company caught up with several transportation agencies, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) to discuss their response to the pandemic.
Here’s a recap of the discussion from each of the agency panel members…
The FMCSA discussed how the agency issued an Emergency Declaration for the first time ever. The idea behind the declaration was to ease up some policies surrounding CDL renewals, medical examiner certificates, hours of service, and other regulations so that fleets would have a few less things to worry about. As we all know, the early days of the pandemic were especially difficult for fleets, who often worked around the clock to deliver essential goods that were in constant demand. Since the Emergency Declaration was first enacted in March, the FMCSA has continued to extend it. As of now, the Emergency Declaration is set to expire December 31, 2020. To check on the current status of the FMCSA Emergency Declaration, click this link.
In Florida, the FDOT discussed how the state took action to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Florida by issuing a 14-day quarantine on travelers coming in from New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Connecticut. The FDOT worked with the state health department and state troopers to set up COVID-19 checkpoints on major highways to inspect passenger vehicles entering the state, documenting travelers coming from restricted states. Commercial vehicles were able to bypass the checkpoints so that they could stay on schedule.
Similar to the FMCSA, the MTO shared how they issued unprecedented exemptions to some of its policies to make operations easier to manage for fleets during the pandemic. Hours of service, trip inspections, speed limiters were a few of the regulations the MTO placed on its exemption list. The agency also modified procedures to support physical distancing and issued medical and safety supplies, including PPE kits to law enforcement officers.
In April, the MTO launched the Ontario 511 app to provide drivers with updates regarding safe parking areas, traffic incidents, road closures, and other transportation-related information. The app is available for free on Google Play and the App store.
In response to states that closed down rest areas to further limit the spread of the virus, Drivewyze added Rest Area Notifications to its Drivewyze Safety Notifications, which were available to all carriers and drivers subscribed to Drivewyze PreClear. During the webinar, our very own Marc Nichols, Drivewyze director of government sales, discussed the importance of alerting drivers of rest area openings and closures so that they would be able to safely park their trucks at the end of the day.
The complications created from the COVID-19 pandemic is something no one could have predicted at the beginning of the year. With little time to prepare, industry leaders were, and still are, in a tough position to make the ‘right’ decisions. To learn more about the quick actions transportation agencies implemented at the beginning of the pandemic, check out our webinar.