Directly or indirectly, Coronavirus affects all corners of American life, including the auto transport industry. For the auto transport carriers hauling vehicles coast to coast, the pandemic has many consequences, some positive and others negative. At this time of great uncertainty and the rapidly evolving situation, the best resource for the drivers out on the road is accurate, up-to-date information. 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, we have no indication that auto carriers specifically or truck drivers generally face increased risk from Coronavirus. That being 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 degree of 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 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 shut down orders in effect across the country, finding equipment, assistance, or even basics like a hot meal on the road could be harder than before.
Carriers are advised to spend some 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 major cities across the country because fewer people are driving. Carriers may be able to reach a destination in less time than normal.
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 afterwards.
What’s the Economic Outlook for Carriers?
With stock market figures plummeting and unemployment figures skyrocketing, the present and future economy look incredibly uncertain right now. 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, a large percentage of elderly snowbirds, who are at higher risk of serious 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 find fewer 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 normal, some shippers are struggling to exist right now, even with the unusually low 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 what happens is the over supply of carriers gobbles up the under supply of vehicles available, and while horrible, it makes it appear the demand for carriers is worse than it is. At present, hardly anybody in the car shipping industry is 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.”
The long-term economic impact on the auto transport industry collectively, and the car transport carriers individually, are much harder to predict. With some sort of 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 maybe into 2021. The slow government response, which starts at the very top, has made the human tragedy even worse. 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 there are plenty of auto transport carriers eager and able to haul it. Auto transport quotes have not been this low since the 2008-2009 Recession. Now is a great time to have your own 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 vehicle in the middle of 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 you may have.