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Truck Cargo Safety Issues Under the COVID-19 Pandemic

— June 25, 2021

While, according to statistics, the US seems to be on the right path, the COVID chapter is not closed yet. It remains to be seen what new challenges and shifts will arise in the trucking industry and beyond. 

While many businesses across the US have closed their doors to the COVID-19 pandemic, trucks continued to roam the roads, delivering goods to clients. In fact, it is fair to say that drivers worked on the front line, as they were often involved in the transportation of medical supplies to places in need.

The trucking industry was not exempt from challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies were met with fluctuating demands, having to deal with safety measures to ensure minimum exposure to drivers while on the job. Another raising concern proved to be cargo safety, as there was a registered increase in theft during the pandemic.

New Challenges in Demand

There was an interesting trend in the trucking industry demand. While the first days of the pandemic have triggered a high consumer demand, this peak slowly fell in the coming weeks. This change was brought on by several factors such as lockdowns, quarantines, and many businesses across all sectors temporarily shutting down. 

The staggering expansion of e-commerce during the pandemic became one of the backbones that supported the trucking industry. Many people turned to shop online to avoid exposure or as a way to shop while quarantined. The next significant shift was the attempt to revive the economy. As states started distributing vaccines to citizens, businesses also began opening their doors and welcoming clients.

Within these overall trends, there were often significant discrepancies between different trucking companies. While some registered a stable boost, others were struggling with minimum orders or were trying to adapt to a highly unstable workload. 

Under such stressful circumstances and precarious times, being involved in a traffic accident can lead to serious repercussions for a commercial driver. To ensure that you protect your livelihood, contact a qualified truck crash lawyer in NY.

The Issue of Cargo Safety

One of the biggest challenges the trucking industry has faced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was increased cargo thefts. The surge appeared in the second quarter of 2020, and it has only continued since then. 

Thieves tend to target cargos that are in demand and are quick and easy to sell. While it is a good guess that the main target during the pandemic would be medical supplies, these were rather well protected and did not suffer an excessive amount of hits. Instead, the most targeted cargo was food and beverages. When hit with economic hardship, people tend to focus on the basic necessities and purchase these in a higher quantity.

It is interesting to note that criminal behavior has changed during the pandemic. Thus, it has become more common to loot only part of the cargo rather than the whole load. This may benefit thieves in several ways. Firstly, the truck driver might not even notice the small change in quantity until the final check at the destination. Secondly, it becomes more difficult for authorities to track the stolen goods. 

Fictitious pickups were also on the rise as the scam found a favorable environment in the chaos brought on by COVID-19. These criminal activities refer to culprits using fake IDs or resorting to fictitious businesses to divert cargo from the client. The pandemic period brought on a lot of confusion in all departments and industries, including trucking. Therefore, criminals sought to exploit this climate for their benefit.

Image credit Edna Winti on Wunderstock (license).
Image credit Edna Winti on Wunderstock (license).

Truck drivers are most vulnerable to cargo theft during bad weather, conditions of low visibility (at night), and during stops. Thieves often latch onto a truck and follow it for a good portion of the road, hoping that it will stop for a refill or for the driver to step out and buy food or coffee. Therefore, drivers are encouraged to be on high alert at all times, while paying particular attention to the above mentioned situations.

Another element that increased the vulnerability of cargo is the reallocation of resources. Due to the changing and fragile social dynamics brought on by the pandemic, some of the resources for guarding cargo were deployed to other missions.

Final Thoughts

While, according to statistics, the US seems to be on the right path, the COVID chapter is not closed yet. It remains to be seen what new challenges and shifts will arise in the trucking industry and beyond. 

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