While the country handles the vast challenges and changes that have been brought by COVID-19, we rely heavily on America’s truck drivers to keep necessities shipping to stores and hospitals, as well as to our front doors. These drivers are not only working harder than usual, but are risking their own health to do so. Their efforts are not taken for granted.
“The Department extends its sincere appreciation to truck drivers all across our nation,” said the U.S. Department of Transportation on its Twitter account. “Your dedication keeps our country moving and allows Americans to continue to receive food and necessary supplies during this challenging time.”
Elsewhere on Twitter, the hashtag #ThankATrucker has been used by many to relay their gratitude to these workers.
“Our grocery stores continue to have food and products families need,” Tweeted Senator Deb Fischer. “This is a result of all our truckers who are protecting our supply chain. Thank you for your dedication to keeping Americans safe and fed during this crisis.”
Glenn Beck also chimed in. “While much of America is in self-quarantine, millions of truckers are working overtime to keep us fed! These are the real HEROES right now.”
Some are going beyond thankful Tweets to express their appreciation. In Oklahoma City, TBS Factoring Service offered sack lunches to truckers, while company executives held up signs near Interstate 35 to encourage truck drivers to stop by and pick up their complimentary meals.
Ottsen Oil Company made an effort to thank truckers by providing downloadable photos for children to color and send to truck drivers in support. Iowa’s Department of Transportation handed out complimentary lunches for truckers at the Jasper County and Dallas County Scales. Aurora Parts & Accessories provided care packages to outbound truckers complete with snacks, treats, water, and thank-you cards. Tail Gators is offering 50% a full meal for truckers–and will even bring it out to the driver themselves.
Woodland Public Schools in Washington State even opened up Woodland High School as a rest area for truckers along Interstate 5.
“During this increasingly stressful time, it is important to remember who is there to bring you what you need: Truckers!” said Aurora Parts.
Currently, the heavy purchases of food, medicine, and household goods like toilet paper and bottled water have yet to die down, but are expected to by April or May. Trucking rates for dry goods in particular increased by about 16% in mid-March in comparison to the same period in 2019.
Additionally, refrigerated truck freight rose by about 15%, which is a welcomed improvement after a yearlong slump in the industry. As of now, there is “zero indication” of supply chain problems, and truck stops and rest areas continue to stay open for service. American Trucking Associations‘ Chief Economist Bob Costello said drivers have stepped up to the call while trucking importance is more evident than ever.
“They’re feeling very patriotic,” said Costello. “They’re all out there doing this work that we need them to do, and they’re doing it well.”
In the midst of the CoronaVirus outbreak, the Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, identified truck drivers in a new guidance memo as “essential employees” as they help navigate the effects of the virus and help the country work on slowing its spread.
“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as health care services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule,” said Krebs in the memo.
The “essential critical infrastructure workers” listed include truck drivers hauling hazardous materials, employees enabling transportation functions, and all workers maintaining infrastructure, such as truck stop and rest area workers, maintenance and repair technicians, and dispatchers.
“This is pretty much a national security issue stating that stakeholders in the transportation industry and other essential personnel should keep working, that there are no requirements for them to keep working at home,” said the director of technology and engineering policy for ATA, Ross Froat. “We need them working.”
The perseverance of these particular industry workers will continue to be appreciated by the nation.
“Without our trucks, America will stop,” said NBC’s Sam Brock. The Today Show elaborated: “Some of the unsung heroes of the CoronaVirus response are the nation’s 3 million + truck drivers who are working overtime to keep our critical supply chain moving.”