truck-distribution-systemic-risk

When The Trucks Stop, It’s Over

truck-distribution-systemic-risk

Systemic risk. I guarantee that most ordinary folks have no idea that if trucks stopped rolling all across America, within a short period of time nearly all Americans would be in a life-threatening situation from major delivery shortages. 70% of all freight that is moved in the U.S. is done so by truck. You (we) depend on that ‘stuff’ for our survival.

A major disruption in truck travel would immediately impact seven major industries, and would bring America to its knees within days due in part to “Just-In-Time” manufacturing, zero-inventory, and the fact that our modern way of life is entirely dependent upon unimpeded distribution chains.

(UPDATED)


 
The other day we had to take the long drive into the city, and while on the freeway Mrs. MSB commented how there were so many trucks – I mean a-lot of trucks (18-wheelers) on the road. She was right, they were with us the entire way – an endless parade – the ‘life-blood’ of the system that keeps most of us alive. I pointed out that what we were looking at is metaphorically the same as the blood vessels in our bodies, carrying the nourishment, goods and supplies which enable the existence for most of us.

This observation along our trip only reinforces the realization of our dependence on others and systems which are mostly or entirely out of our control. The truckers keep us alive – literally. Knowing that this is the case, it might motivate you to prepare for system disruptions (whatever the root cause) so that you are not left out in the cold if it ever happens…

 
(Facts summarized from a report sourced from the newsroom of www.trucking.org)

SEVERELY IMPACTED FROM TRUCK STOPPAGE:

 

The Food Industry

– Severe shortages within 72 hours, especially of perishable items.
– Panic will make shortages worse.
– Clean drinking water will run dry (every 7 to 14 days all water treatment plants receive chemicals by truck to make drinking water safe).

Healthcare

– Many hospitals operate on a “just in time” delivery for medications and supplies.
– Hospital and nursing home food will run out in 24 hours.

Transportation

– Gas station fuel will run out within 24 to 48 hours. An average gas station requires deliveries every 2.4 days.
– The subsequent fuel shortage will ripple to all automobiles and vehicles which will no longer be able to transport people to work,  police, fire, rescue, mail-package delivery, garbage pickup, public transit…
– Airlines and air-cargo will be grounded due to lack of supplies.
– Rail lines will halt due to non-delivery of the first and last mile (trucks)

Waste Removal

– Within days, America will be buried in garbage, presenting an enormous health hazard.

The Retail Sector

– Most retailers rely on “just in time” delivery of their products to keep inventories low.
– Consumer behavior during emergencies triple the inventory turnover – speeding up the already ‘bad’ situation.

Manufacturing

– Nearly 100% of manufacturing have switched over to “just in time” processes in order to optimize efficiency and profits. Manufacturing will shut down within hours.

Banking and Finance

– ATM’s and bank cash will run dry very quickly.
– Businesses will lose access to cash.
– Bank branches will shut down.

 

 

IMPACT TIMELINE IF TRUCKS STOPPED ROLLING

 

The first 24 hours

• Delivery of medical supplies to the affected area will cease.
• Hospitals will run out of basic supplies such as syringes and catheters
within hours. Radiopharmaceuticals will deteriorate and become
unusable.
• Service stations will begin to run out of fuel.
• Manufacturers using just-in-time manufacturing will develop component
shortages.
• U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

Within 48 hours

• Food shortages will begin to develop.
• Automobile fuel availability and delivery will dwindle, leading to skyrocketing
prices and long lines at the gas pumps.
• Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery,
assembly lines will shut down, putting thousands out of work.

Within 72 hours

• Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and
consumer panic.
• Supplies of essentials—such as bottled water, powdered milk, and
canned meat—at major retailers will disappear.
• ATMs will run out of cash and banks will be unable to process
transactions.
• Service stations will completely run out of fuel for autos and trucks.
• Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.
• Container ships will sit idle in ports and rail transport will be disrupted,
eventually coming to a standstill.

Within a week

• Automobile travel will cease due to the lack of fuel. Without autos and
busses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries,
or access medical care.
• Hospitals will begin to exhaust oxygen supplies.

Within two weeks

• The nation’s clean water supply will begin to run dry.

Within four weeks

• The nation will exhaust its clean water supply and water will be safe for
drinking only after boiling. As a result gastrointestinal illnesses will
increase, further taxing an already weakened health care system.

 

————————————————————————————————————–

It’s all pretty scary. The ripple effects would be severe, the specifics of which are far too many to list here. You may be of the opinion that something like this could or would never happen. You would be wrong to think that. Don’t let your normalcy bias get in the way of critical thinking.

Imagine a pandemic. A major and deadly pandemic WILL happen again. It has in the past and there is no denying that it will happen in the future. Much of the trucking transportation system would be affected for a number of reasons including they themselves being stricken or the fear of becoming infected while out in public. Even a partial trucking collapse would lead towards a chain-reaction that would cripple the rest.

Imagine a natural OR weaponized EMP (eXtreme solar flare or high altitude nuke). An EMP could destroy the electronic workings within most trucks in an instant, rendering them useless. In addition to stopping vehicles in their tracks, an EMP will bring down most all other electronic systems, making for an overall truly apocalyptic event.

A major New Madrid fault zone earthquake could sever all or much of east-west trucking distribution as major bridges are damaged or destroyed across the Mississippi river.

A super-spike in the price of diesel fuel due to a major world conflict-disaster-war could grind to a halt much of trucking traffic.

Terrorist attacks while using trucks as truck-bombs could grind trucking to a halt while the government begins mandatory inspections of all.

Any major event, terrorist or otherwise, which causes the majority of truckers to remain at home with their families for the sake of their own security or health rather than to risk leaving them behind and going out on the road.

 

Think about it. Read the timeline again. Are you prepared?

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34 Comments

  1. Aside from those who frequent MSB, most fail to realize just how fragile our daily bread is. A supply chain reliant on perfect conditions in order to operate, with no backup plan. That kind of inherent risk doesn’t sound like a business plan anyone would provide financial backing for.

  2. Thank you for posting this. It’s frightening what could happen when you put the scenario into days and hours.

    My husband is a truck driver and I’ve just recently had a debate with an idiot of a woman who thinks they shouldn’t be allowed on the motorway because they are clogging up the road, and our stuff should go by train! She didn’t like that I pointed out the idiocy of her comment, or explaining what it would mean for us with no trucks on the road.

    Needless to say, she couldn’t understand that once off the freight train, trucks are still needed to get the goods from A to B by using the roads!

    1. I cant help but laugh. The youth in this nation (heck even the adults) are complete idiots!

  3. I am a retired truck driver and so happy to see this post. I’ve tried to tell people this for years but for whatever reason was ignored. Kinda feel vindicated, thanks.

  4. i am about to be a dad (this is my first) and this is the kind of stuff i was raised to think about i am glad to say that at the ripe old age of 25 i am ready for most disasters and issues that could arise. That said i am always on the look out for any way to be that much more ready. This was a great article, great post as well glad to see that if/when a disaster happens good people will be around.

  5. Having read this article, I agree whole heartily. Reason being is that I worked for a nationally known packing house for 40 yrs, just about every department from receiving livestock to shipping of the product and a few in between (maintenance the longest period of time ). I’ve seen what would happen when there was trucking strike, when the supplies didn’t arrive on time or when the product wasn’t able to be shipped. (more than once I’ve sent product going to the tank house bc it had been held too long and couldn’t be shipped). I can only imagine what it would be like on a national scale.

  6. Your headline is inspiring; however, have any of you noticed the shelves??
    There may be one item that you need. After you get that one item, the next consumer may have to wait for days to buy one or search through town at many stores.
    I notice this more than ever since I don’t buy one of anything often.

  7. I experienced some of this during hurricane Ike in 2008. The first thing to disappear was food. Second was fuel. Third was electricity.

    We elected to bugout in place. We discovered many weaknesses in our preparation plan and will be better prepared next time.

    It is pretty disheartening to watch people fight each other over a jar of pickles or a bag of marshmallows.

    …but do not fret, I have heard that the FEMA trailers are enroute as we speak.

    1. Being in a place where people are fighting over food seems like a *really* bad idea.

      I wonder how many a FEMA trailer can seat for the trip to the Camp?

        1. Ya. Of course they could smile and explain to the sheeple that they were taking them to a warm place with plenty of food. With large Pizza ovens to boot. Most would jump at the chance.

  8. Its when will it happen not if it will happen. I don’t think it will be long the way things are going.

  9. Listen to Hank Williams Sr “when the fire comes down”. Great old song with lyrics about people with their heads in the sand (my paraphrase). As they would tell us before deployments, prep physically, mentally, equipment wise, training and prep spiritually.

  10. As many large trucking companies now dictate the amount of fuel that can be bought for a particular delivery run, it is common for drivers to find themselves inside a large metropolitan area hundreds or even thousands of miles from home with just barely enough fuel to get to the nearest truckstop after delivery. This would be a nightmare scenario for the driver if a sudden emergency were to occur. EMP/Finacial Crash/Natural Disaster/Another 911/Riots, etc… Most drivers now will falsely report a lower fuel level in order to gain an extra fuel stop or additional gallon amount before approaching a large the big cities just to help get them away from highly populated areas before they have to stop again for fuel. Those large trucks will be an easy target if panic erupts! After the store have been wiped out (looted), trucks will attacked next. Cargo theft and even fuel theft from those large tanks are rampant today. Imagine how quickly that will occur after a disaster scenario. My brother is a truck driver and he always has a bicycle strapped to the back of his cab to escape a gridlocked metro area. He carries his hiking boots, BOB, and several non-descript bags that can be hooked over the bike frame just incase. But still we worry about him constantly with all the current events happening today.

    1. Fast forward to life in fallen Venezuela 2019.

      Gangs of people attack fuel and food trucks to get what they need.

  11. I am an owner/operator OTR truck driver. This article is spot on: My real comment is regarding how we, the professional drivers that keep America turning, are treated. We are treated as second rate citizens, even at todays travel centers. The interstate highway system was created to facilitate military movement and interstate commerce. What that means, is that the interstate highways are not for the casual traveler or vacationer. The system was created for the big trucks to get freight to destinations all across this great, expansive country.

    So if you all are truly concerned about the freight movement, in order that you and your family can live comfortably, give a nod to the professional men and women behind the wheels of those 80,000 pound trucks. Quit cutting us off! Quit being irate because we are on the roadways, they were built for us. We do the best we can under very trying circumstances. I dare any of you to try to live within approximately 53 square feet for weeks at a time. I do it and it becomes quite difficult after a couple of weeks.

    Again, great article. I appreciate the nod and I am delighted that someone found a venue to say what every professional driver already knew.

  12. My husband and me trucked for years and at times people would bitch about trucks on the roads. this country has no clue on what would happen and it would be so scary. my hat goes out to each and every truck driver out there.

  13. my “adopted grandson” is a truck driver. he told me once that if the ALL the trucks stopped (a called for action) for just TWO hours, the entire JIT would be down three days. Three Days. Wow~

    1. Unfortunately if the JIT goes down for 3 days it would take stores weeks to completely restock …… Not good. Could you just imagine the riots when the store are out of food???

      Prepare like your life may depend on it, for it just might.

      NRP

  14. I am a truck driver and I have a thought but everybody in this country might want to consider. Truck drivers are being treated very horribly right now by the government and its regulation, by the public and by brokers and dispatchers and also by shippers and receivers. Due to this treatment truck drivers now making less than we made 20 years ago. Due to regulations created by activist groups and lobbyists we are only able to operate at about 60% of the efficiency that we used to. It hasn’t been this bad for truck drivers since the fuel shortage in the 1970s. When that fuel crisis happened The truck driver shut down all of the trucks in the country. Shippers and receivers make truckdriver sit for hours upon hours every day impacting the income of the truck drivers with their own inefficiencies. This does not mix well with the department of transportation regulations that truck drivers have to meet. Those hours spent sitting and idling counts against the allowable hours that we can operate and therefore drastically affects our income. The public used to have respect for truck drivers as we are the lifeblood of the United States. Now the public look upon us with scorn as they cut us off on the highway’s and give us the finger. I could continue to go on and on with different instances and scenarios of how poorly America’s lifeblood is being treated. Suffice it to say that it is very likely that the truck will stop again very very soon if things are not rectified. The only reason the truck have not stopped already is due to a lack of unity between the truck drivers that is been eliminated by corporate strateg. But eventually more likely sooner than later necessity will force truck drivers to act and to unify. Be prepared.

    1. @ Preston Ruby
      Very well said, and I for one will agree with you 1000%.
      FYI, I’m one of those that have the upmost respect for your shitty job, and ALWAYS allow you LOTS and LOTS of room. I have an aversion to a 90,000 pound truck and my 4000 pound PU getting into a Tango Dance.
      You are exactly correct, shut down the trucking, you shut down the country. This JIT Inventory WILL come back and bite the country in the azzzzzzz.
      Thank you for your comment.
      NRP

  15. Preston Ruby isn’t wrong.

    Operation Black and Blue, a protest against the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) and other regulations is happening in D.C., October 3rd through 8th, 2017. Because we, as truckers, are at our wits end. Those arrogant fools in the Capitol are about to come face to face with a bunch of pissed off truckers!

    1. Chevy,
      I saw a similar article over at ZH today.

      Ken, I think in one of your articles about what happens when the trucks aren’t rolling may have touched on this. If an area is unsafe, why would a trucker deliver a load in that area (if given a choice). And, I think a lot of insurance carriers do not covers riots as an insurance loss, so why would companies agree to deliver in areas where they could both lose cargo, and have liability if their driver(s) are injured?

    2. Problems are already happening. Part of my job is tracking shipments made for parts coming in to our distribution centers. The last couple of weeks, several shipments have been delayed for civil unrest. I’d not seen that before. If I were a truck driver, I certainly wouldn’t want to go where there was no rule of law. Sure, the laws may still be on the books, but if there is no way to enforce them, it doesn’t count.

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