Just In Time: When Trucks Stop, America Stops
2 Apr 2012, SHTFPlan, Mark Salvo
“Most Americans take for granted the intricate systems that make it possible for us to engage in seemingly mundane day to day tasks like filling up our gas tanks, loading up our shopping carts at the local grocery store, obtaining necessary medications, and even pouring ourselves a clean glass of water.
When we wake up each morning we just expect that all of these things will work today the same way they worked yesterday. Very few have considered the complexity involved in the underlying infrastructure that keeps goods, services and commerce in America flowing. Fewer still have ever spent the time to contemplate the fragility of these systems or the consequences on food, water, health care, the financial system, and the economy if they are interrupted.
A report prepared for legislators and business leaders by the American Trucking Association highlights just how critical our just-in-time inventory and delivery systems are, and assesses the impact on the general population in the event of an emergency or incident of national significance that disrupts the truck transportation systems which are responsible for carrying some ten billion tons of commodities and supplies across the United States each year.
A shut down of truck operations as a result of elevated threat levels, terrorist attacks, or pandemics would, according to the report, have “a swift and devastating impact on the food, healthcare, transportation, waste removal, retail, manufacturing, and financial sectors.”
So too would events such as an EMP attack or coordinated cyber-attack that could shut down global positioning systems and the computers responsible for inventory control. Another potential scenario that is more likely now than ever before is liquidity problems within the financial system stemming from currency crisis or hyperinflation.
All of our just-in-time delivery systems are built upon the unhindered transfer of money and credit, but when credit flow becomes restricted or money becomes worthless, no one will be able to pay for their goods. Likewise, no one will trust the creditworthiness of anyone else. This isexactly the scenario playing out in Greece right now and the consequences on the health care industry in that country have left many without life saving drugs. When there’s no money, no one will be transporting anything.
The effects of a transportation shutdown for any reason would be immediate (in some cases, within hours) and absolutely catastrophic.”
The following is an excerpt from the report mentioned above put out by the American Trucker Associations entitled, “When Trucks Stop, America Stops”….
A Timeline Showing the Deterioration of Major Industries Following a Truck Stoppage
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 one day
• 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 two to three days
• 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.
This timeline presents only the primary effects of a freeze on truck travel. Secondary effects must be considered as well, such as inability to maintain telecommunications service, reduced law enforcement, increased crime, increased illness and injury, higher death rates, and likely, civil unrest.
The brown text link below opens the American Trucking Association’s nine page .PDF report:
Forum reader comments regarding the article (taken from about the Internet);
Wakingup: Yeah, this is good stuff, thanks for sharing! I currently work with the trucking industry and can verify that, although we had a few layoffs, truck loads are increasing across the country. It’s amazing how much reliance we have on these guys.
Old Trucker: I knew it could be bad, but when I seen it all put together for the perfect shutdown there will be a lot of hurting going on. People who live on a day to day existence will be without basic needs in the first week.
Uke: If this link is to be believed, and I absolutely do, then Will and Ariel’s quote is amazingly optimistic. We’re not a century away from savagery. We’re a goddamn WEEK away from it, at any and all times
Countryboy66: During the first gulf war I was at a meeting in my county seat . It was a meeting put on for fire departments , rescue / Ambulance / EMS , sheriff’s department , police and county workers . It was put on by a lot of men wearing dark suits and driving black suburban’s . Anyway one of the speakers said that if the trucks stopped rolling for any reason that the stores would be out of food in 72 hours . I was amazed . Fast forward to my 20 year class reunion in 2004. I asked a friend of mine, who I went to school with. He use to manage a local food lion and now is an exertive with Food lion . He told me that the stores would be out of any food that I would want to eat in less than 48 hours, that there is a truck unloading behind most Food lion stores at all times and that they get well over 30 venders delivering products to the store every day. We have gotten far to use to ordering it today and getting it tomorrow .