Editor’s note: Written by Desiree Wood, president of REAL Women in Trucking and a founding board member of Truckers Emergency Assistance Responders. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented hoarding that has created havoc in the supply chain. Truck drivers, many who are not paid by the hour, are working under suspended hours of service regulations to replenish store shelves.
Unlike hospital workers and warehouse workers, truck drivers have very little access to bathroom facilities, shower services and food, even in the best of circumstances.
The reality of empty store shelves may, for the first time, educate much of the public how truck drivers serve them each day. America stops without truck drivers delivering the things you need to buy, to the stores where you shop. Now, more than ever, we must support our truck drivers. We must not add more stress to their daily lives.
Rest area and service plaza closures, truck parking restrictions, fast food limitations that discriminate access to truck drivers, the lack of bathroom and shower facilities and the poor availability of protective personal equipment are additional stressors that the women and men who work as truck drivers do not need right now.
Truck drivers have growing concerns that they are being left without services and protective personal equipment that can compromise their health. Some fear becoming infected with coronavirus and inadvertently spreading it to others, including their own loved ones when they return home.
“Truckers Emergency Assistance Responders,” or T.E.A.R. is a non-profit and along with the REAL Women in Trucking truck driver association, is asking for assistance from state and local agencies, distribution centers, truck stops, businesses and other volunteer groups to help truck drivers with the following:
Consider ways to make portable shower facilities accessible for truck drivers with no fee where none exist like turnpike service plazas or rest areas.
Allow food trucks to enter rest area/truck stops and distribution center staging areas to serve truck drivers since fast-food chains are closing early and drivers have limited access due to drive-thru requirements and walk-up window restrictions.
When giving out sack lunches to truck drivers include protective personal equipment items including hand sanitizer, a mask, disinfectant for cleaning the steering wheel and other truck surfaces, and/or a pair of surgical gloves.
We all have a role to play to help our country get through the coronavirus crisis. We must help the truck drivers stay healthy as they travel state to state replenishing store shelves for all of us. If you would like more information on ways you can support the truck drivers who are serving your community, please contact us.
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