ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Truck drivers rarely get a break from the job and now with the novel coronavirus there is even less downtime.
A regular day has an 11-hour driving limit, but there could be unloading and loading once a driver is at an assigned destination and that adds on work hours, too.
Veteran truck driver Patrick has never experienced anything like the current state of affairs in his 30-years as a trucker.
“Astonished” is one word he used to describe what he’s seeing at the various states he’s recently gone through in connection with the coronavirus.
He makes his way to Arkansas, via Interstate 40 and 49, several times a year. And since the coronavirus has swept the nation he has driven through about a dozen states including California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.
Stopping for food has been a challenge. “So far, the northern part of Seattle has been the scariest stop,” he said, “It took me two hours to find a convenience store truck stop and when I got there it was roped off.” He said he kept driving.
Even when he does find a place to stop he’s concerned about cleanliness. “I use my elbows or my foot to open or close doors, paper towels when I turn faucets on or off.”
Patrick’s guesstimate is that there are about 1.5 million truckers at any given time doing long-haul interstate (versus intrastate). He said it’s important to consider trucks from Mexico or Canada because those countries may not have the same measures in place in an effort to mitigate the disease.
The U.S. has curbed nonessential trucker travel between the U.S. and Mexico, and between the U.S. and Canada, according to a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made on March 18. The agreement is in place for 30 days. So, there are fewer international trucks on U.S. highways as only food, fuel, and life-saving medicines are allowed to be transported.
In all, there are about 3.5 million truck drivers in the country, according to the American Trucking Association.
Following the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization’s recommended precautions is tops for Patrick. “I’m diligent with following the guidelines such as hand-washing,” he said.
Also, he listens to the radio while driving to get updated information about the disease. He does this because of his concern with the spread of COVID-19 once he gets to an assigned destination. “The shippers and the receivers, and dealing with them one-on-one. That worries me,” said Patrick.
He said he thinks about the product, where it was produced, where it’s picked up and where it’s going.
“It’s a difficult lifestyle and for me, hygiene is important, said Patrick. While I have my hand sanitizers, at least a gallon of water, and paper towels with me at all times, I don’t know what to expect at the receiving end.”
Truck driver Christopher is based in Tennessee and was delivering supplies to a retailer in Rogers, Arkansas. He wanted to stop and get a bite to eat, but the drive-thru where he was didn’t accept walk-ups.
“Some nice people asked me what I wanted and I told them … they gave me what I requested and said it was free that, ‘it was on them!'”
He said he’s been on the road delivering products for three weeks and sacrificing home time but the reality is, “there are more loads than drivers right now.”
TRUCK STOPS AND SERVICE AVAILABILITY
Love’s: All locations are open for gas and diesel fuel. The restaurants, with showers and truck care, are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The full-service deli opens at 7 a.m. (local time). ” proper safety glove procedures while operating the full-service stations. In addition, approximately every 30 minutes, we will trade out grill tongs and fountain nozzles with clean, sanitized replacements,” according to a company statement. Game room operations have been suspended in Montana, Nevada, Illinois, and Louisiana.
Pilot FLYINGJ: Travel Centers will remain open to serve drivers at the pump, store or restaurant. Fuel shortages are not expected. All showers and laundry are open. Foodservice is available for carry-out at all locations, but dining room seating and quick-service restaurants remain closed. All driver lounges are closed. Game rooms in Illinois, Nevada, and Louisiana are closed. Sanitation processes for cleaning all areas of the travel centers will be done at least every four hours.
TA and Petro Stopping Centers: “We are open and ready to serve you,” reads a dedicated COVID-19 Response page on its website. All fuel lanes are open with no fuel rationing. Truck service centers are open and RoadSquad 24-Hour Roadside Assistance is available. Showers are available. Iron Skillets and Country Prides eateries are closed, but carry-out is available. The Fitness Centers and Driver Lounges are closed. They are requesting customers to use disposable cups and not TA/Petro refillable mugs. The same prices apply.
State-by-state temporary changes made in the trucking industry as a result of the coronavirus. The list was compiled by TruckerNation.org (3/23).
- AlabamaExtends payment of 2020 motor vehicle registration and vehicle property tax
- ArizonaMVD offices limits offices to operate by appointment only
- ArkansasHOS suspended for hauling essential items of commerce, including to but not limited to grocery, pharmacy items, medical equipment, goods, commodities, fuel, poultry, and livestock.
- CaliforniaAll individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence
- Motor carrier property permit requirement suspended and portions of state labor laws are suspended
- California law enforcement to exercise discretion for 60 days in their enforcement of driver license and vehicle registration expiration dates
- Restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery and non-essential gatherings banned
- ColoradoCounties are waiving late fees for vehicle registration and renewals and encouraging drivers over 65 to renew their license online
- Connecticut DMV offering a 90-day extension for expiring drivers licenses, road and knowledge tests postponed, DMV offices closed
- Waived IRP requirements for commercial motor vehicles
- Bars that serve food will temporarily be required to move to take-out and delivery services only. Bars that do not serve food will be required to temporarily close. Movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, and similar public workout facilities and studios, and casinos closed. Crowds limited to 50.
- DelawareDMV waiving late fees for vehicle registration and driver license renewals until further notice.
- Florida30-day extension granted on drivers licenses
- GeorgiaHOS suspended
- IdahoA 90-day extension of expiration of driver’s license, vehicle registrations, commercial vehicle oversize/overweight permits, and commercial vehicle registrations
- IllinoisFREE overweight permits, overweight loads only permitted on some routes, drivers MUST CARRY A COPY of the executive order and the waiver
- IndianaDeadlines extended for drivers license renewals and vehicle registrations
- No in-person events of more than 50 people and restaurants to offer take out service only
- Overweight and oversized permits available for carriers hauling emergency response and relief supplies. It can be obtained by contacting the Indiana Department of Revenue’s OSOW permitting office, IndianaOSW@dor.in.gov or 317-615-7320.
- All Indiana weigh stations are open to ALL truck drivers for parking 24/7 (except Seymour due to construction on I-65). You do not need to be providing emergency relief to be able to park. Scales remain open.
- IowaIRP and IFTA waived for commercial vehicles traveling in and through the state of Iowa for the purpose of providing direct emergency relief
- KansasWeight restrictions increased however drivers MUST still obtain permits but fees have been suspended, IFTA suspended, licensing and permitting requirements suspended
- KentuckyDriver’s license renewals and vehicle registrations extended for 90 days
- LouisianaDrivers license and registration fees suspended, IRP suspended
- MaineIRP and IFTA waived
- MarylandIRP suspended
- Massachusetts Crowds limited to 25, restaurants limited to carryout, delivery, and drive-thru
- Michigan Weight and other delivery-related restrictions, and seasonal load restrictions are suspended for vehicles providing emergency relief
- MinnesotaHOS suspended, weight restrictions suspended on all Minnesota roads, trucks permitted to weigh up to 90,000 lbs gross weight or 20,000 lbs per axle for those providing emergency relief
- Mississippi Weights increased for trucks providing emergency relief. 90,000 lbs for 5 axle trucks with a minimum 51-foot outer bridge measurement. The maximum tandem limit is 40,000 pounds. All other dimensions must be meet legal requirements.
- MissouriIRP and IFTA suspended. A driver MUST carry a copy of this waiver and retain a copy with the records kept by the driver for audit purposes.
- Nebraska Extension granted for drivers licenses and vehicle titling and registrations, late filing fees for IFTA waived
- NevadaDMVs closed
- Exemptions granted for commercial vehicle registrations, no enforcement action to be taken on outdated registrations/cab cards, IRP and IFTA suspended. A driver MUST carry a copy of this waiver.
- New HampshireDMVs closed but still offering phone and online services, accepting appointments
- New JerseyCrowds limited to 50, social businesses closed, non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses close at 8p, restaurants limited to carroty delivery, and drive-thru.
- New YorkNon-essential employees ordered to stay home
- New MexicoMVD offices operating by appointment only
- North CarolinaNC Quick Pass walk-in locations closed
- North DakotaRest area buildings are closed but parking remains open
- OhioMost BMVs closed
- OklahomaHOS suspended, fees for overweight or oversized permits suspended, IRP and IFTA suspended for those providing emergency relief
- OregonSize and weights suspended, HOS suspended, single trip permits suspended Drivers MUST carry a copy of the waiver
- PennsylvaniaUnder statewide COVID-19 mitigation, crowds limited to 10
- Rhode IslandExpiration dates extended for drivers licenses, vehicle registrations, temporary licenses plates, motor vehicle inspection permits
- South CarolinaRest areas remain open with more frequent cleaning
- South DakotaDOT offices closed
- TennesseeWeights increased to 95,000 lbs (20,000 lb axle limit), size restrictions increased, routes NOT limited if the vehicle is overweight or oversized, HOS suspended for those providing emergency relief
- TexasTravel information center lobbies closed, rest areas are open
- DMVs closed, expiration extension for vehicle registration and titles, IRP suspended
- Weight and size restrictions suspended, drivers MUST carry a copy of the waiver and the Governor’s disaster declaration
- UtahDMVs closed, IRP suspended
- VermontExpiration for drivers licenses extended, IFTA, IRP, and 72 hour trip permit requirements waived, vehicle registration and Driver’s License renewals expirations extended
- Virginia DMVs closed, driver and vehicle credential expiration dates extended
- WashingtonIFTA and IRP suspended
- West Virginia Vehicle registration expirations extended, IRP suspended
- WisconsinOffering free overweight permits, drivers must apply for the free permit, IFTA and IRP suspended, weights increased to 88,000 lbs
- WyomingMeridian rest area on US-85 closed
ARKANSAS TRUCKER FUN FACT: According to TruckerNation’s website, one location has built a drive-thru specifically for heavy-duty trucks and that is Sonic in Fordyce, Arkansas.