The Importance of Truck Drivers During the Pandemic
Truck drivers have always played an important role in society but they are now especially appreciated as the world struggles to survive the coronavirus crisis.
From hauling critical supplies to delivering consumer goods, they work under trying circumstances and longer hours just to ensure shelves remain stocked with medical supplies, toilet papers, and other essential items. Some help maintain the cleanliness of residential communities and commercial areas while others do much, much more.
Here are some of the essential tasks that truckers do these days:
1. Deliver medical supplies and consumer goods
Various governments have publicly recognised the essential work of truck drivers since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Australian Prime Minister Morrison flagged as critical “the people driving trucks to get food out to supermarkets and ensure the suppliers continue to run.”
While most people stay at home to avoid the COVID-19 infection and the medical professionals work hard to treat those who were infected by the virus, truckers ensure that the groceries and essential supplies are delivered to people who need them.
Doing so, they are risking their lives as they take out supplies from the cramped stores and supermarkets and deliver them to areas with high cases of infection. Sure, they can wear face masks and gloves and observe social distancing, but they can't do anything about anyone who unexpectedly coughs or comes too close to them.
2. Help feed people
Food trucks now take to the road and travel to more residential areas to deliver food. Those who used to sell deserts are also offering more food choices to address the needs of many people who cannot or do not want to cook their own meals.
There are also food trucks that are stationed outside hospitals and police checkpoints to provide meals, coffee and snacks to frontliners, as well as government- and non-profit sponsored food trucks that offer free meals in low-income communities, temporary shelters, and evacuation sites.
3. Bring relief goods and other aid
In some countries, heavy-duty trucks are used by local government units to transport and deliver food relief to thousands of residents. Aside from the ample cab space, food and other essential supplies are also safely secured inside the vehicle, lowering their risk for contamination.
In some poor communities with not enough water supply, water trucks or delivery trucks that transport large water containers also help residents drink safe water, as well as wash their hands or take a shower.
4. Collect and dispose of garbage
Garbage collection and disposal don’t stop while people are on lockdown. While many are staying at home and eating to their heart’s content, garbage truck collectors continue to drive around residential areas to collect and dispose of their garbage.
As we continue to consume food and pile up garbage while on quarantine, they work outside to ensure that our houses and communities stay clean.
5. Help store dead bodies
In New York City, specialized freezer trucks have been used as storage for the bodies of many coronavirus victims to ease pressure on overflowing hospital morgues.
Aside from helping free up storage space for bodies in refrigerated morgues and mortuaries, the initiative also gives families more time to organise funerals for their deceased loved ones.
But imagine if you are the driver of one of these freezer trucks!
A lorry driver in the UK who was tasked to deliver freezer trailers to various parts of the UK during the coronavirus pandemic shares:
"So in the 22 years since I passed my HGV class one, I’ve delivered a lot of things over the years. From wood and steel, timber, clothes, I’ve even done supercars and I’ve done blood for the National Blood Service.
"But today I’ve got a job, it’s a bit bittersweet is this job ‘cause today I’m not delivering any goods – I’m delivering an empty trailer. And these trailers are going… Well, I’ll let you make your own conclusions, but this trailer is a refrigerated trailer.
"To be more precise it’s a freezer trailer and we’ve got hundreds of these to collect and take to various parts of the country. ‘I’ll let you make your own conclusions [on] what they’re going to be used for and what’s going to be stored inside them.
"You need to take the government advice and be safe, stay in the house, don’t pass on this virus. This is one job I really don’t wanna do, but it’s a job that needs to be done now, so just please be safe. Thank you."
Because of the significance of truck drivers during the pandemic, we should keep them safe by observing social distancing or staying away from them if we are sick.
We should also make sure that their needs are addressed, especially if we have the means to provide road amenities like showers and toilets.
Most importantly, we should give them the respect they deserve.