Directly or indirectly, Corona Virus affects all corners of American life, including the auto transport industry. The pandemic has many positive and negative consequences for auto transport carriers hauling vehicles coast to coast. At this time of great uncertainty and rapidly evolving situation, accurate, up-to-date information is the best resource for drivers out on the road. Consider this your guide for auto transport drivers during COVID-19.
Are Auto Transport Carriers At Higher Risk of Catching COVID-19?
As of early April 2020, we did not indicate that auto carriers or truck drivers generally face increased risk from Coronavirus. That said, the Department of Homeland Security designates Transportation as an essential sector, meaning carriers are still working while many others are sheltering in place. Drivers may also be traveling between or through areas with large numbers of infections, increasing their risk of exposure.
How Can Drivers Keep Themselves Safe at Work?
The isolated nature of truck driving provides some protection, but face-to-face interactions are still standard during pickup and drop-off. Therefore, car transport carriers should practice social distancing, wash their hands frequently, and sanitize surfaces. Most important, carriers should stay off the road and immediately seek medical attention if presenting any symptoms of Coronavirus or if they feel ill for any reason. Drivers at increased risk – because of respiratory issues or a compromised immune system – may even want to suspend transporting preemptively out of an abundance of caution.
How Will the Corona virus Affect Domestic Shipping?
With COVID-19 upending the status quo, auto transport carriers may need to deviate from their usual way of doing things. During pickup or drop-off, for instance, have a plan in place so that both parties can maintain adequate distance. And with shutdown orders in effect nationwide in 2020, finding equipment, assistance, or even basics like a hot meal on the road could be more complicated than before.
Carriers are advised to spend extra time planning their routes and calling ahead when anything seems uncertain. Also, account for all the traffic missing from the roads. Average travel times have drastically decreased in significant cities nationwide because fewer people are driving. Carriers may be able to reach a destination in less time than usual.
What if You Get a Shipment From Overseas?
Despite restrictions on international travel, ports remain open to most overseas shipments, including vehicles. Carriers picking up vehicles coming from locations with high rates of COVID-19 – China, Italy, Iran etc. – should exercise extra caution when taking possession. Wipe down all surfaces before touching them, wear a face mask, wear disposable gloves, and wash your hand thoroughly afterward.
What’s the Economic Outlook for Carriers?
With stock market figures plummeting and unemployment figures skyrocketing, the present and future economy looks incredibly uncertain. Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad for auto transport drivers. There’s been a drastic uptick in college student auto shipping in recent weeks as campuses shut down, and students need a way to get their vehicle home while they fly with their stuff. The snowbird season – when retirees leave Florida for the summer months – has also come early this year on account of COVID-19. That said, many elderly snowbirds, who are at higher risk of severe complications from the disease, are wisely foregoing flight plans and driving their vehicles home. It may take considerably longer, but certainly worth it.
Auto transport carriers going from South to North may need more opportunities available. Given the urgency of the moment and the danger of traveling anywhere, there is far lower demand for car shipping, and carriers have been forced to accept abysmally lower rates. With fewer orders than usual, some shippers need help to exist right now, even with the meager cost of fuel. Indeed, the number of vehicles available to ship is currently down roughly 75%.
That does not mean that auto transport shipments are down 75% because the oversupply of carriers gobbles up the undersupply of vehicles available. While horrible, it makes it appear that the demand for carriers is worse than it is. Only some people in the car shipping industry are making a profit. Nearly everybody is trying to cut their losses. As one carrier described their situation to Direct Express Auto Transport, “If we stop running, our fixed costs will kill us. We’ll go out of business. So we operate at a loss every day and hope for the best.”
Predicting the long-term economic impact on the auto transport industry and car transport carriers is much more challenging. With some recession/depression looking certain, expect the number of vehicles being shipped to stay suppressed. Rates could go even lower as carriers compete for shipments. Considering that auto sales are expected to drop sharply in 2020, there is even less room for optimism.
Realistically, carriers should plan for a severe and prolonged downturn for the rest of 2020 and 2021. The slow government response, which starts at the top, has worsened the human tragedy. And so, too, the economy. The car shipping industry is very aware that we are paying a high price for poor leadership in Washington.
The Roads Are Open for Auto Transport
If you need a vehicle shipped a short distance or from one side of the country to the other, rest assured that plenty of auto transport carriers are eager and able to haul it. Auto transport quotes have been relatively low since the 2008-2009 Recession. Now is a great time to have your vehicle, whatever that may be, at your location instead of sitting idle in a distant garage or driveway. How much would it cost to ship a car during a pandemic? Find out fast using the online quote calculator from Direct Express Auto Transport, or call us at 800-600-3750 with any questions.