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Self-Driving Trucks: The Future or Fantasy?
April 21, 2020
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On the Road? Protect Yourself From COVID-19

While long-haul truck drivers spend a lot of time in the cabs of their trucks, there are still plenty of opportunities for exposure to SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Keep in mind the following potential sources of exposure while driving.

Potential Sources of COVID-19 Exposure for Long-Haul Truckers

Truck drivers spend most of their time alone in the cab of their truck. However, there are many potential sources of COVID-19 exposure for truck drivers, especially those who travel from coast to coast. These sources include:

  • Close contact with truck stop attendants.
  • Close contact with store workers.
  • Close contact with dock workers.
  • Close contact with other truck drivers.
  • Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth after coming into contact with surfaces previously handled by a person with COVID-19.

How to Protect Yourself on the Road

There are ways to protect yourself as a trucker on the road here in the United States amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Make a Plan With Your Employer

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Make sure to wear PPE and limit your interaction with other people while docking, fueling, and at rest stops.

Make sure that both your employer and family are aware of a plan for the following situations in case of contact with a positive case of COVID-19 or the development of symptoms:

  • When and where to stop if you become sick on the road.
  • Where and how to seek medical advice and treatment.
  • Plans for freight delivery if you become sick.

Additionally, you should ensure that your employer knows if you have a sick family member or housemate at home with COVID-19. Follow all CDC-recommended guidelines to limit your potential exposure to COVID-19, including:

  • Maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people when possible.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend outside of your cab during fueling, loading, unloading, and at rest stops.
  • Use electronic invoicing whenever possible to avoid contact with others.
  • Make appointments in advance for unloading cargo.
  • Use the radio or phone to speak with dockworkers and other drivers when possible.
  • Pack your food, water, and supplies to limit the number of stops you have to make.
  • Avoid shaking hands or close conversations.
  • Keep your truck’s cab well-ventilated.
  • Wear a face covering in public settings where social distancing is difficult or impossible, especially in areas with significant community transmission.

2. Regularly Disinfect the Cab of the Truck

In addition to all of the above measures, it’s smart to ensure that your cab is routinely disinfected. Use products approved by the EPA for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Make sure the following areas are regularly cleaned:

  • Driver door handle
  • Steering wheel
  • Seatbelt and buckle
  • Arm and headrests
  • Seat covers
  • Turn signal
  • Wiper controls
  • Air ducts
  • Radio
  • Temperature controls
  • Lightswitches
  • Mattress tray
  • Sleeper berth temperature controls
  • Other flat surfaces in the sleeper berth

If a mechanic, another driver, or an inspector needs access to the interior of your truck for any reason, ask that they clean and disinfect the truck before returning it.

3. Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands regularly, including:

  • Before eating
  • After touching or wearing a cloth face covering
  • Before entering or leaving your cab
  • After using the restroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching surfaces often touched by others

4. Take Care of Yourself

Do not share your personal protective equipment (PPE) with others. Don’t share other items either, including vests, hard hats, tools, phones, radios, and other personal items.

Make sure to plan ahead and ensure that you only use pre-qualified truck stops or hotels approved by your employer. This way, you can be sure to only stop at locations that have appropriate COVID-19 protections.

Ensure that you get an adequate amount of sleep before driving. Always stop and take a nap or drink a cup of coffee if you feel tired while driving.

When a ride-along or team-driving effort is required, ensure that you both wear cloth face coverings inside of the truck and don’t share bedding in the sleeping berth.

Communication is key. If any direction from a shipper or your employer is unclear, ask questions, and plan ahead.


The Effect of COVID-19 on Truck Drivers in the United States

Many truck drivers are feeling both the emotional and financial effects of the current COVID-19 crisis and civil unrest in the United States. Many truckers have expressed concern at delivering loads to urban centers affected by both COVID-19 and the current ongoing demonstrations against police brutality. However, while the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has issued emergency declarations in response to COVID-19, they have not released any other statements or guidelines regarding the civil unrest. The best advice for long-haul truck drivers who may be concerned about ongoing demonstrations is to communicate those concerns to an employer and come up with a plan in case delivery is impeded by demonstrators.

The FMCSA emergency declaration affects truck drivers delivering emergency supplies such as medical supplies, food, and personal protective equipment. The declaration allows qualifying deliveries and drivers to forego some regulations, such as hours-of-service regulations. Ask your employer if you’re unsure if you qualify as exempt from these regulations.


How Can Western Pacific Truck School Help You?

Truck drivers are critical to the ongoing efforts against COVID-19. While millions of people are out of work, it’s a good time for many to pursue other career options. Help your neighbors and community by being part of the trucking industry. Learn more about what it takes to get your CDL in Washington State by calling us at Western Pacific Truck School today!