When Trucks Stop
The Food Industry
Every day, Americans purchase billions of dollars of groceries. Most of these goods are
brought to market via daily truck deliveries.
• Significant shortages will occur in as little as three days, especially for perishable
items following a national emergency and a ban on truck traffic. Minor
shortages will occur within one to two days. At convenience stores and other small
retailers with less inventory, shortages will occur much sooner.
• Consumer fear and panic will exacerbate shortages. The forecast of a winter
storm quickly exhausts basic commodities at grocery stores and supermarkets. It
takes retailers up to three days to recover from these runs on supplies. News of a
truck stoppage—whether on the local level, state or regional level, or nationwide—
will spur hoarding and drastic increases in consumer purchases of essential goods.
Shortages will materialize quickly and could lead to civil unrest.
• Supplies of clean drinking water will run dry in two to four weeks. According to
the American Water Works Association, Americans drink more than one billion
glasses of tap water per day. For safety and security reasons, most water supply
plants maintain a larger inventory of supplies than the typical business. However, the
amount of chemical storage varies significantly and is site specific. According to the
Chlorine Institute, most water treatment facilities receive chlorine in cylinders (150
pounds and one ton cylinders) that are delivered by motor carriers. On average, trucks
deliver purification chemicals to water supply plants every seven to 14 days. Without
these chemicals, water cannot be purified and made safe for drinking. Without truck
deliveries of purification chemicals, water supply plants will run out of drinkable
water in 14 to 28 days. Once the water supply is drained, water will be deemed safe
for drinking only when boiled. Lack of clean drinking water will lead to increased
gastrointestinal and other illnesses, further taxing an already weakened health care