Article written by Jeff Della Rosa
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. looks to make safer the delivery of shipments amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic as federal and state transportation agencies partner to distribute 1 million masks to truck drivers nationwide.
The Lowell-based carrier announced Friday (May 1) a new electronic bill of lading (eBOL) feature that will allow businesses and carriers to digitally sign bills of lading and reduce contact during the delivery process.
“The current environment is challenging every aspect of the supply chain, from securing capacity to completing deliveries,” said Shelley Simpson, executive vice president, chief commercial officer and president of highway services at J.B. Hunt. “This new electronic bill of lading feature offers simplicity, efficiency and most importantly, a safer option for drivers and front-line employees to sign load documents.”
The new electronic bill of lading feature will provide safer interactions between truck drivers and on-site personnel at customer locations by reducing or eliminating the exchange of paper documents, according to a news release. Drivers can use Carrier 360 or the J.B. Hunt Drive app, which comprise the carrier’s technology platform J.B. Hunt 360, to send the eBOL to customers for electronic confirmation and signature. Signed proof of delivery is then emailed to the customer.
Also in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, J.B. Hunt has issued a work-from-home directive for employees whose on-site presence is not required to perform their work. The company has established internal protocols regarding travel restrictions, self-quarantining, social distancing and other safety precautions. The company has provided employees with hand sanitizer and gloves and established an emergency COVID-19 paid time off policy for employees who are unable to work as a result of the illness or quarantine. The company also handed out nearly $13 million in one-time bonuses to drivers and other personnel ensuring goods are delivered in the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) recently announced the Arkansas Highway Police, a division of ArDOT, will distribute 100,000 masks to truck drivers at weigh stations and rest areas across the state as part of a U.S. Department of Transportation initiative to give 1 million masks to truck drivers.
“Our officers are glad to be a part of this massive effort to distribute 1 million masks to truck drivers who are traveling our nation’s highways and keeping our supply chain operational during the pandemic,” said Chief Jay Thompson of the Arkansas Highway Police.
Arkansas was the first state in the country to receive and begin distributing the masks, according to an ArDOT news release.
“We are happy to be a part of this effort to support the commercial transportation industry in Arkansas,” ArDOT Director Lorie Tudor said. “This emergency has truly opened the eyes of many about how important the role of a truck driver is to this country. In addition, at the suggestion of the Arkansas Trucking Association, we have granted permits to food truck operators to provide hot food to truck drivers in designated Arkansas rest areas. We want to do our part during this crisis.”
The mask initiative includes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is an agency of the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association of Kansas City, Mo., thanked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for providing free masks to truck drivers who are delivering goods amid the pandemic, but Todd Spencer, OOIDA president and CEO, remained concerned about what drivers should do if they become ill while working.
“Access to testing must be available where they are, particularly on busy truck routes,” Spencer said. “And testing must show results in hours, not days.”
The free masks are being given in the following states:
- New York