Truck drivers under increased pressure due to coronavirus
The coronavirus is affecting everyone in the U.S, from restaurants, health care workers, to the trucking industry who delivers our food.
While most places are transitioning to working from home, truck drivers do not have that luxury.
Truck driving requires 14-hour days, thousands of miles. For Douglas Burnett, a driver based out of Saint Louis, it takes him away from his family.
“We got a job to do. Yes I signed up to be a truck driver, 100%, I know there are sacrifices I have to face on a daily, not being able to tuck my kids in at night,” Burnett said.
According to the US Department of Labor statistics, there are more than two million truckers in the U.S.
“I’m going to continue to do what I do, and keep America moving,” Burnett said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, rest areas in several states are starting to close. With the restrictions in place on group gatherings, restaurants the truckers normally eat at are closing as well.
Drivers are having to resort to food delivery services, or buying food from convenience stores. The price adds up.
Mark Livingston, a truck driver for 17 years, said, “It’s costing us two to three times as much to eat.”
Drive-thrus are not an option since their trucks are too big and tall. Burnett tried to park and walk up to the drive thru but was turned away.
“They wouldn’t serve me, I tried to explain to them, hey I'm a truck driver,” Burnett said.
Quick stop restaurants are only serving take out, drivers can only get the food if there is a place to park. With more trucks on the road, the demand for parking spaces is higher.
“If you can’t park in a truck stop then you gotta find another place to park or you’re not getting anything,” Livingston said.
With parking lots full at large grocery stores, truck drivers are getting booted out. Burnett shared his experience at a store where he stopped for thirty minutes to pick up food. A security guard told him to leave, to make more room for other shoppers.
“Without us, you wouldn’t have anything on the shelf to purchase,” Burnett said.
The demand for medical supplies, food, and toilet paper is increasing. To help meet the demand and get deliveries quicker, Governor Parsons is relaxing the rules for hours truck drivers can be on the road.
While stores will get their resources quicker, drivers are concerned about spending more hours on the road. They worry about being more exhausted and not finding proper places to rest.