COVID and Trucking Challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unexpected challenges for almost everybody over the past several months. However, the difficulties faced by truckers are unique. While some truck drivers are characterized as “essential workers” and remain able to work, all are facing unprecedented circumstances, nonetheless.
Some of the difficulty’s truckers face are logistical. For example, many have reported difficulties parking at most public places, meaning that while on the road, truckers are limited to shopping at truck stops. This often means that finding things to eat is a challenge; even finding restrooms has been more difficult than usual.
Truck drivers face a conundrum: many are classified as essential workers, which means that they may be more susceptible to contracting the virus while on the job, but there remains very limited access to the kinds of supplies that could lessen this risk. While there is no way to guarantee complete protection from COVID-19, there are important precautions truckers can take in an effort to protect themselves:
- Plan route logistics ahead, accounting for potential modifications (travel advisories, changes to toll collection routines)
- Meal plan: bring food from home, or know which restaurants offer take out
- Maintain a stock of food, essentials, and cleaning supplies in the truck in case stores are closed
- Keep healthy habits as much as possible, to minimize the risk of illness (hydration, exercise, and sleep)
- Have a back-up plan for where to go if they begin displaying symptoms of illness (according to the CDC, some symptoms include loss of smell, change in taste, fever, cough, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in chest, or confusion)
It is a lot to ask of truck drivers to be prepared in case they fall ill; despite doing what they can, some worry about what they would do in this worst-case scenario. These tips are helpful and may ease some of the burdens of working during this time, but they don’t change the fact that, as essential workers, many truckers have faced increased hours with few to no opportunities for breaks.
This financial impact has been more pronounced in some sectors of the trucking industry than others, according to Forbes. For example, those carrying grocery deliveries or medical supplies remain busy, while carriers of fuel or manufacturing supplies have faced diminished demand.
Throughout all this uncertainty, and despite the challenges that have been presented to truck drivers during this unusual time, some drivers have reported unanticipated silver linings. For example, many have reported noticeably safer driving conditions and reduced traffic, which is a small “pro” especially for those drivers who are working around the clock right now.
It is unclear exactly how this situation will be handled moving forward. Senators have proposed a hazard payout for workers like truck drivers. This “Heroes Fund” would be added to an upcoming Coronavirus relief bill, in an effort to provide relief to workers who have provided essential services during the Coronavirus pandemic.
It is important to consider how to best support truck drivers as economic activity increases. Drivers have faced logistical and financial challenges throughout the coronavirus pandemic, both individually and at the industry level.
This is an impact that will be felt moving forward, and some have recommended measures to ensure truck drivers are able to effectively perform their jobs. One thing is for sure: truck drivers, who have been described as “keeping the economy afloat,” have played a crucial role in surviving these uncertain times.