Truck Driving During Covid
Rollin’ with the Times
Life on the road can be tough for truck drivers. Truck driving during COVID is more challenging than ever — with drivers facing new risks, restrictions and procedures.
But that hasn’t stopped millions of truck drivers from making timely deliveries safely, day after day and week after week. In fact, intermodal freight volume is near 2019 levels. A couple of AMX drivers recently shared their thoughts on what it’s been like truck driving during COVID.
“We’re using Porta-Potties a lot more,” said veteran AMX truck driver, Daniel Dunston. “A lot of facilities limit who can enter the building. So we stay outside. It’s a bit of an inconvenience. But I have a job to do, even if it takes a few adjustments to get it done.”
For most, part of the adjustment is waiting in detention longer than normal. “It’s more difficult to find parking,” said AMX driver, James Turk. “And it seems like dock crews are lighter, so we’re spending more time waiting.”
Those wait times add more time for drivers to spend inside the truck. In fact, with some truck drivers spending up to 23 hours per day in the cab, they’re mostly isolated from other people. But that doesn’t make them any less perceptive to those they see on the road.
“Traffic seems lighter in a lot of places,” said Dunston. “But it’s been picking up a bit. And those on the road seem to be pretty impatient. I have to be just as aware of other drivers as before. That’s never going to change.”
Drivers face a wide range of additional challenges driving during COVID. Turk noted that the extra stress has reduced his time on the road from nearly five week-runs to about three-week runs.
“Things are different, whether during pickup and delivery or simply finding a good meal,” said Turk. “At the warehouse, we ring a bell and they bring us the paperwork. It’s not all that much different at restaurants. There isn’t much for sit-down service, so I call ahead, get my meal and take it back to the truck.”
“By the time I get food back to the truck, it looks horrible,” added Dunston.
Both drivers are appreciative of the efforts from truck stops to make drivers more comfortable, even if all driver lounges are closed.
“The truck stops have been life savers,” said Turk. “They’re cleaned constantly for us. We can shower up and get a break knowing that the place is clean and safe.”
While truck stops were almost universally praised for their consistency, both drivers noted the inconsistent measures taken to battle the pandemic.
“I’ll wear a mask, open doors with elbows, wear gloves, whatever,” said Turk. “But it’s incredible how even a few miles of road can change the way other people behave. I’ll stop for a candy bar in one state and see nobody with masks. A few miles away across the state line, and you’re getting screamed at if you don’t wear it.”
“At the end of the day, we’re just going with the flow,” said Dunston. “Behaviors, attitudes, and everything else can change. None of it will slow me down.”
The efforts of James, Daniel and other truckers in the AMX family aren’t going unnoticed. Recently, Collins White, president of AMX Logistics, shared his thoughts on the sacrifices drivers make on the road.
“Our drivers are the backbone of our company,” said White. “We have so much respect for their hard work, day in and day out. That’s why we’re pushing flexibility. We’re all facing tough times. We’re just trying to make the best of it, even when it’s inconvenient. We’ll keep working with all our drivers to keep them safe, both on the road and at home.”
Learn more about what it’s like to drive for AMX.