COVID-19 has caused many people to drastically change the way they live their lives. Trips have been canceled, workers have been laid-off, entire towns are in lock-down, and all are encouraged to practice social distancing. These steps limit person-to-person contact to help minimize the spread of the virus.
But in order for these measures to be possible, there needs to be adequate food and supplies to support a self-quarantine and/or lockdown.
Unfortunately, “panic-buying” has caused many of these essentials to become scarce. The responsibility has fallen onto truck drivers to handle the growing demand. They have been working tirelessly to ensure that food, medical supplies, and other necessities are shipped, stocked, and restocked during the pandemic.
Hours-of-Service Laws Are Suspended During Crisis
The U.S Government has put measures in place to help truck drivers during this time. For the first time in 82 years, the hours-of-service (HOS) laws have been suspended across the nation. The law dictates how many hours truck drivers can work. The current rules state that truck drivers can drive for 11 hours in a 14-hour work period, with 10 hours of “off duty” time. This is done for safety. It ensures that drivers are well-rested and not being overworked. However, supplies and services needed during the pandemic are exempt from HOS standards to help handle the growing demand. These include the following:
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Sanitary and safety equipment (ex. gloves, mask, soap, etc.)
- Supplies and equipment needed to support quarantine and isolation
- Persons to aid in a medical, emergency, or quarantine/isolation purposes
A detailed list can be found on the DOT site.
How has this been affecting truck drivers?
In lieu of the changes to HOS standards, truck drivers will be working longer and more frequent shifts. However, this is only one of the many changes impacting their job. According to a poll done by CDLLife, shipping and receiving processes have changed drastically.
Many drivers go through extensive screening before entering a building. They are asked questions about where they have been, who they have been around, illness symptoms, and so on. In some cases, truck drivers are not allowed in the buildings based on their answers.
Changes have also been made outside of shipping and receiving. Some drivers are asked to use their own pens when signing off and many truck stops have banned the use of refillable cups. Truck drivers have also experienced positive changes. Many are offered supplies/products to keep them safer like being offered hand sanitizer on arrival. Additionally, social distancing and self-isolation measures have greatly reduced the number of cars on the road, minimizing traffic.
Essentially there are positive and negative changes occurring during the pandemic. However, this has not slowed the work of truck drivers. They have been working and will continue to work around the clock to ensure that the United States is supported.
Without the hard work and dedication of truck drivers across the nation, Americans would not be equipped to handle many of the impacts caused by COVID-19. It is important for Americans to show their appreciation to truck drivers, especially during this time; give them the recognition and respect that they deserve.