What’s Down the Road – Post-pandemic?

The pandemic has brought many changes. Some of them may linger well after the pandemic ends.

We will eventually see an end to the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the virus may be here to stay unless we can eliminate it by vaccinating every human on the planet, which is unlikely. If we’re very lucky, it will peter out on its own; the only human disease that we’ve been able to wipe out is smallpox. So don’t expect to see the end of this particular coronavirus. It’s possible there will be precautions we will always have to take, such as getting a regular booster shot (like a flu shot).

The pandemic has been difficult for all occupations, including professional drivers. Trucking companies saw revenues fall by 23%, suppliers and service providers saw a 39% drop, motor coach companies took a hit of 97%. Optimists are looking at the post-pandemic period as one of prosperity, much like the 1920s economic recovery after the end of the First World War and the end of the H1N1 flu pandemic of 1918-1920 (aka Spanish Flu). Trucking will play an important role in that recovery; analysts predict a strong environment for commercial transportation beyond 2021.

According to Trucking HR, in 2019 the trucking and logistics sector employed 650,000 workers—4% of Canada’s workforce. Drivers made up 46% of that workforce. Statistics Canada’s Job Vacancy and Wage Survey reported that the truck transportation industry had an average job vacancy rate of 6.8% in 2019, more than twice the national average of 3.3%. The demand for trucking increased in the middle of 2020 as people turned more and more to online shopping for everything, although supply chain issues caused problems. If that momentum continues, the trucking industry will need more drivers. However, that is a challenge right now; older drivers are retiring and young people hesitate to enter the field.

There will always be paperwork. The pandemic caused changes in the way forms and paper are handled everywhere. The uncertainty about whether the virus could be transmitted on surfaces meant digitizing paper and sharing it electronically. That change makes sense and should be here to stay, especially when combined with freight-tracking technology, which supports locating and reallocating assets and provides enhanced real-time visibility of trucks and freight.

All That Cleaning
The uncertainty of what we were dealing with led to workplace assessments, physical distancing, and strict hygiene guidelines that included lots of handwashing and sanitizing vehicles to prevent surface transmission of the virus. We may have gone a bit overboard on that, but it did keep the seasonal flu away. As researchers studied the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they learned that it is not transmitted on surfaces, which the Centers for Disease Control announced on April 5, 2021. Rather, it is an airborne virus; people catch it through exposure to respiratory droplets containing the virus. As we move forward, we can hope that the time-consuming tasks of sanitizing everything we contact in the course of a day can end, but it it’s still a good idea to wash your hands often along with things you touch often, such as doorknobs and steering wheels, to avoid cold and flu viruses.

Deal with Anxiety
Will we face another pandemic? No one can say for sure, but pandemics have happened throughout human history. We learn from them—the rapid development of an effective vaccine against COVID-19 has been nothing short of miraculous. It’s important not to let anxiety about the future affect your mental health. Take precautions, including getting vaccinated. Stay informed with reliable sources, Talk about what you feel with someone you trust.