As a second wave of COVID-19 prompts a series of new shutdowns and guidelines, one thing hasn’t changed – truck drivers are still on the front lines.
While some legislation was passed earlier in the year to temporarily relieve truck drivers of some HOS restrictions, tax burdens, and even overweight and alcohol regulations, truckers were still left to fend for themselves when it came to finding a good meal, and even delivering to cities with defunded police.
Some truck drivers were able to refuse loads to cities with defunded police departments, but no OTR truck drivers could avoid the harsh realities of shuttered rest stops and limited restaurants.
“Closing restaurants or take out only. No more refills for travel mugs and cups at truck stops, staff doing an even worse job of cleaning showers and restrooms because THEY are scared to get sick,” wrote one anonymous CDLLife reader in response to a poll.
“Showers have been closed at some locations, or the wait time is extended to accommodate a proper cleaning of the facilities,” wrote another.
Since the first half of the year, many restrictions were temporarily lifted, or at least lessened, and civil unrest has seemed to die down, but a predicted second wave has some states reinstating lockdowns and restaurant restrictions, leaving truck drivers in a bind once again.
For example, as of November 23rd, TA announced the closure of many TravelCenters of America restaurant locations due to state restrictions. TA stated that “both hot and cold food options are available in our homestyle kitchen/deli area, in the center of the travel store, at the fuel islands, or at one of our 300 quick-serve restaurants across the country,” however, a provided list of TA locations shows that many of their restaurants are closed entirely.
Click here for an updated list of reinstated, or lifted, restrictions state-by-state.
In addition to the second wave of restrictions and lockdowns, truckers may be facing a new challenge and a huge responsibility – the shipping of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Many details surrounding the new vaccines are unclear, but the logistics of widespread vaccine distribution are especially murky. Reefer demand has already been high enough this year to ‘tap out’ the market, leaving little room for the even-higher demand that is sure to come with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To top it all off, some versions of the vaccine require extremely cold temperatures to remain viable; a deep, deep-freeze capability that many reefer fleets simply don’t have.
Since late October, the US Department of Defense has announced that it will be playing a “logistics-only” role in the distribution of the vaccine, and claim they will be “working in conjunction with the CDC, to guide … every logistical detail you could possibly think of,” but the fact of the matter is that the exact plan for distribution is still unknown.
The role truck drivers may play in the distribution and implementation of the vaccine may still be ambiguous, but one thing will always remain certain – truckers will be out on the road, risking their lives to keep the rest of us clothed and fed. Thank you, drivers.