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Natural disasters can disrupt any industry, but their impact is particularly serious for logistics companies. The recent mudslides in California are a powerful case in point. By blocking Highway 101, one of the Golden State’s most important roadways, this environmental crisis has diverted trucks from their usual routes. This has significantly increased the cost and difficulty of completing hot shot freight deliveries, hampering the economy of the entire state.

Many of the most important deliveries in California run on a route between Santa Maria and Oxnard or Camarillo in the southern part of the state. Even a minor disruption to this route can seriously impact shippers, and the mudslides are far more than a minor disruption. Hot shot freight companies have thus had to reroute many of their vehicles, often by more than 100 miles.

The Full Force of Highway Closure

To understand the total impact of closing a highway as busy as 101, it’s important to remember that shipping delays tend to compound themselves. A relatively small issue in one area can create other problems that lead to longer delays down the line.

Part of the problem is that drivers are limited by Federal law to working no more than 11 hours per day. After they have hit this quota, they must take time to rest before they are allowed to take to the road again. As a result, shippers plan their routes so that no driver will have to be behind the wheel for more than 11 hours. But because the Highway 101 closure has added more than 100 miles to many routes, deliveries that formerly would have taken less than 11 hours now take far more.

As a result, logistics companies, industry associations, and hot shot trucking news agencies are warning California customers that they may have to add a day or more to their delivery expectations. According to Jim Philson, a partner at Western Trans Logistics, “"If it's a one-day (delivery), we're telling them to expect it in two. If it's two, it may be three.”

Related imageBesides making it harder for carriers to limit their drivers’ hours, the Highway 101 closure has forced them to take other, less convenient roads. Many shippers are now using Highway 166, a route that is subject to frequent twists and turns and that only has one lane. With so many trucks being diverted onto this highway, traffic has become highly congested. This further compounds the hours problem while also making it harder for carriers to balance speed and safety.

With mudslide recovery efforts underway, California officials expect to be able to reopen Highway 101 on January 24th or soon after. In the meantime, customers are adjusting to longer delivery times, while shippers struggle to make the most of their limited route options.

 

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