Truckers’ Journeys Through The Pandemic

All frontline workers have had stressful experiences during the country’s passage through the Coronavirus pandemic, but the spotlight has fallen on truckers throughout the past few months. Between the long hours, last-minute route changes, stressful delivery expectations, and limited food and rest stop options that truckers have had to deal with since COVID-19 began its spread, the U.S.’s 3.5 million professional truck drivers have been among the heroes of this pandemic by driving into the epicenters of the virus to deliver essential medical, grocery, and paper products.

As America still battles rising cases of Coronavirus, the trucking industry has already been reshaped by the virus, and probably for the long term.

Recognizing the Importance of the Supply Chain

Suddenly finding themselves without an ample supply of toilet paper, paper towels, basic disinfect products, and grocery staples have made Americans more aware of how the supply chain works – and how essential truckers and vocational drivers are to that system.

Recognition and appreciation for truckers are usually reserved for Trucker Appreciation Week every year, but amid the challenges of finding food and rest during the pandemic, truckers have seen more support on a state and local basis to keep them fed and make sure they have safe spots to park and rest on their journeys. In general, people are more aware of how the store shelves stay stocked and who all is responsible for that convenience, and the appreciation for simply buying what they need when they need it is now being felt every day, not just once a year.

Sanitation and Social Distancing as a New Normal

To outsiders, trucking may seem like a low-key occupation, but truckers are busy. Getting your cargo from point A to point B, and maybe having a point C and D along the way means a lot of jumping in and out of the truck to make your delivery times and stay on schedule. But keeping truckers safe amid Coronavirus has forced everyone to slow down a little bit and focus on cleanliness and sanitation.

Inside the cab. Wiping down high-touch points such as the steering wheel, knobs, gears, and center console with disinfectant between drivers and between trips has been helping keep truckers safe on the road and is now a regular part of pre and post-trip routines for many truck businesses and fleets.

Outside of the cab. Maintaining social distancing between truckers and customers isn’t always easy, but our industry always adapts, and keeping the recommended six feet apart is going to be the norm for a while.

Mechanics and technicians. Truckers aren’t the only essential workers in this industry who have an increased risk of exposure. If the trucks are running, the people who fix the trucks are running, too. In addition to keeping the shop clean, mechanics and technicians are also sanitizing between jobs, getting serious about stocking up on personal protection equipment and disinfectant products and having to be cognizant of social distancing between themselves and their customers.

Adapting Paperless Processes

Working in the trucking industry not only includes goods but also paperwork. Rather than having truckers come into close contact with customers to sign, initial, or hand off paperwork, many businesses have now switched over to paperless processes to minimize exposure risk.

For companies that are not able to adopt a paperless approach, putting a table or another surface in between you and the other person can help keep the paperwork process compliant in the meantime.

Minimizing Vehicle Stops

A typical day for a trucker may be just one stop or it may be several. Longer hours, unexpected route changes, and uncertain food and rest stops have made it challenging to minimize vehicle stops but consolidating when truckers need to leave the safety of their vehicles may be a long-term adjustment.

Like most industries, trucking was not prepared for a pandemic, but the bravery and dedication that truckers, vocational drivers, technicians, and others in the industry have shown along the way will keep America running past the pandemic and beyond.

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