It’s no secret that online shopping has become the new fad since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The service is quite fascinating: you find your desired item (which could be just about anything), enter some payment details, push a button, then your package arrives within a few days or more. But have you ever considered how your package is transported to your door? Have you ever thought about the materials that just seem to appear without explanation or reason, like construction materials or grocery store supplies?
Much like every other industry, the trucking industry has taken a heavy hit since the beginning of the pandemic. Although it is deemed an essential service, the commercial drivers who are relied heavily upon have not been without struggle. The trucking industry is much larger than we realize: it’s not just your Amazon packages. It’s perishable items, liquids, raw materials (steel, metal, glass), farming materials and livestock, and just about anything else you can think of. In every market, there must be someone to take the item and bring it from point A to point B. Despite the large demographic of cargo that needs to move, a 2020 snapshot done by Trucking HR Canada’s Labour Market showed loss of jobs to 49,000 commercial drivers. Warehouse closure from erupting hotspots was an exponential loss of business – if there was no one to produce, there was no need to transport. Luckily, in August of 2020 there was an addition of 43,500 drivers.
While this was promising, some branches of trucking still remain in uncertainty. Some chain demands were able to keep their drivers running smoothly, but some sectors closing indefinitely or being scaled back to abide by COVID-19 regulations has left a large demographic of drivers with an unstable and unreliable income. Not to mention, with areas being put into lockdown, many restaurants or places to eat that are accessible to transport trucks were closed. This included many highway rest areas and available places to eat (seeing as a transport truck can’t go through the local McDonald’s).
Despite this, there are many people who look to support commercial drivers. Geoff Wood, Canadian Trucking Alliance’s VP of policy states: “Given the important role commercial drivers play as they carry out essential functions related to the COVID-19 emergency response, it is crucial that they be provided access to restroom facilities at a minimum, accessibility remains very fluid and changing daily as more facilities across the country come online. CTA and its provincial association members appreciate the support from all levels of government to provide our hard-working truck drivers as many options as possible where they can refuel, eat and rest safely.”
Not to mention to dangers the drivers face while traveling. Since transport drivers are considered essential, they are eligible (for the most part) to travel without facing quarantine restrictions. But think about all the people and places they come into contact with while out on their trips. Rest areas, job sites, and other essential and unavoidable places of contact put our drivers at the potential risk of encountering and extracting COVID-19. FreightWaves was told that COVID-19 is forcing difficult choices upon carriers and drivers. Dr. Johnathan Davids, the medical director of DriverCheck, a leading provider of drug and alcohol testing and occupational health services for Canadian trucking companies is quoted to say: “If we had more widespread testing, we’d probably be better off. If you have a good, objective test to know in 15-45 minutes if this person is actually clear, you can sequester and prevent widespread infections.”
It’s important to recognize commercial drivers for all they do. Companies like Canadian Truck Warranty have been able to assure drivers a safe trip home. While the world is dangerous for our drivers, CTW are able to protect some of the driver’s biggest assets: their truck and their equipment. No driver needs to worry about the safety of their cargo and truck when faced with a global pandemic.
While we may not directly see the commute our everyday necessities take to be at the length of our finger tips, and while we may not understand the toil and length commercial drivers have gone to for its’ safe transportation, I encourage you on your next trip to the grocery store or local pharmacy to consider it.
Be grateful for the resources given.
Be courteous to drivers on the road.
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Gates MacPherson was born and raised in small town Thorold, Ontario. Knowing her home had given her the roots of knowledge but the wings to fly, she left Thorold at a ripe age of 16. When she flew the nest, she headed eastward to the beautiful state of Massachusetts to finish her high school career at The Williston Northampton School. Once she became acclimated to the area, she decided to settle at the sunny coastal school, Endicott College.
At school, Gates fills her time with her studies in English and Religious Studies, as well as with the Varsity Women’s Track and Field team. With her English degree, Gates hopes take the knowledge of the English language and head into the field of writing children’s books. After all, there’s nothing she believes to be more powerful than the mind of our future generation.
Gates has two rescue pups and her favorite band is Peach Pit.