Trucking line owner-operators say their greatest business hurdles during pandemic conditions have been freight rates and load volumes, according to a survey conducted by transportation industry consulting and bookkeeping firm American Truck Business Services (ATBS).
According to the survey, freight volume has dropped by 50% or more for 35% of the owner-operators surveyed, and 11% claim freight is nonexistent. As for payment, 47% of owner-operators said that freight rates have dropped by 30% or more. However, 65% of the owner-operators are still running during the pandemic, and only 6% have had to furlough an employee or independent contractor.
Seeking financial relief, 81% of owner-operators received the $1200 Economic Impact Payment, 53% applied for a paycheck protection program (PPP) loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and 30% received funding.
Despite the business pressures, the majority of owner-operators surveyed have not had to operate outside of normal regulations during the crisis, although federal regulators have relaxed certain restrictions under a national state of emergency. Although many of those rules had been loosened, 87% of those surveyed said they have not had to drive beyond hours of service (HOS) time limits, 95% have not had to operate with an expired commercial drivers license (CDL), and 96% have not had to haul a load above weight limits.