When coronavirus concerns first reached the US, truck drivers were at the forefront of public appreciation; now, drivers are saying it seems as if their essential efforts are being forgotten.
“At first it was like ‘thank you so much,’ and now we’re nothing any more. We’re back to the bottom of the list,” said truck driver Zebbie Barquest, a Canadian truck driver who frequently hauls to the United States.
Drivers say they experience similar issues on both sides of the US-Canada border when it comes to health, respect, and “basic human dignity.” For example, truck drivers traveling through the United States and Canada say they have trouble finding accessible food and restrooms while OTR due to coronavirus regulations and closures – almost as if their needs have been forgotten.
“It’s basic human dignity,” a passing trucker stated in regards to accessible restrooms.
All drivers know that the pandemic hasn’t made getting fresh food while OTR any easier, but access to public bathrooms is something that drivers just can’t do without. And while some business owners are standing up for the needs of truck drivers, it just isn’t widespread enough for drivers to feel recognized for the risks they take every day.
Still, other drivers are just concerned for their own health as they ensure the public remains clothed and fed.
“I don’t stop at all,” said George Hobbs, a truck driver of 50 years. “I just don’t stop,” he said to CCTV News.
Despite his health concerns, Hobbs says he continues driving out of a sense of duty.
“I’m delivering food. I make sure everybody is fed, everyday!” he pointed out. But Hobbs isn’t the only one who takes pride in what he does.
“Like I’m damn near 68, this is my life, I love it!” said truck driver Murray Wilson, who says he could retire, but chooses not to out of a love for his lifestyle.
Now, with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more and more of a reality, industry leaders are speaking on behalf of truck drivers, and making plans with the US government for “swift shipment” of the doses; but are the truck drivers themselves really ready to shoulder even more of the COVID-19 burden? Only time will tell.