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Has COVID Impacted Road Freight in Australia ?

We asked Transport and Insurance Industry legend Owen Driscoll to share some thoughts on COVID and the Transport Industry. As well as a long career in the insurance industry Owen has been influential in developing accident research reports and

represented transport industry associations including Trucksafe and the ATA.

We have read that limited, untargeted and mostly uncoordinated action from world governments is putting more road transport companies at serious financial risk.

That doesn’t appear to be the case here locally in Australia. Contrary to the impact we have seen on air transport, the road and rail freight sector have not seen the same levels.

In the main, road transport businesses and their employees have done everything possible to do the right thing insofar as the COVID – 19 pandemic is concerned.

Aside from disruptions due to border closures and increased compliance, the pandemic has impacted the nature of freight by greatly accelerating the trend towards online shopping and home deliveries. These new and heightened transport demands are placing pressure on an industry with existing shortages of experienced drivers.

But those employed in the road freight task here, like all Australian residents, have needed to be aware of the consequential health issues. Access in road transport is a game breaker, so you would expect it to follow that transport workers have been supportive of vaccinations otherwise exclusion would be very costly.

As we now enter a new phase in the pandemic, we are finding the impacts of high rates of infection and the need for isolation are heavily impacting the levels of staff available for normal duties. We can expect to see staff shortages across the transport and logistics industry from administration, warehousing and truck driving. This combined with staff shortages across suppliers, wholesalers and retailers is impacting the availability of everyday consumables that Australians have become used to.

Concerns over driver health and undiagnosed COVID infection could further impact driver and broader road safety. Never before has the need for Operators to ensure that drivers are fit for service been so important.

All industries are now under stress. None more than our road transport carriers.

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