A 2019 report concluded that when the economy is headed southward, the freight industry will be the first affected. The trucking industry, in particular, entered a recession two years earlier than the rest of the country eventually did in 2008.
With the recent unfolding coronavirus panic, the trucking industry has again been hit hard.
Here are 17 truckers discussing how the situation has affected them.
1. “If all the truck drivers just stop, the whole country is going to be stopped.”
“I heard on the news that everything was shutting down, the truck drivers can’t get any food, you can’t get a shower certain places because they are closing everything down, but we’re the ones out here delivering all the good and we can’t be treated any better than this? That’s not cool. Nothing is moving. So if all the truck drivers just stop, the whole country is going to be stopped because you can’t get anything in.” —Dia
2. “One of the biggest concerns for me is not having work.”
“One of the biggest concerns for me is not having work. I have bills and other things that require me to drive, load, and unload product. Being under a quarantine or in a hospital, or even stuck in the truck for two weeks to let the virus run its course, would harm me as I wouldn’t be able to efficiently do my job.” —Anonymous
3. “I have been questioned twice about having the virus.”
“I have been questioned twice [by shipper customers] about having the virus and told I can’t enter if I may have come in contact with it.” —Anonymous
4. “Hope for the best, prep for the worst.”
“If you deliver to a city in the morning, but then that city goes into quarantine, you may be stuck in your truck.
“If you show up to pick up or deliver and appear sick, it might escalate. Hopefully you won’t get forcibly hauled off into an isolation unit.
“My wife & I are stocking the truck with several weeks of grocery/water/etc. in case we have to isolate somewhere.
“Or, if things break down to where the owner has no freight to run us and we deadhead wherever we feel is the best based on the current sitrep.
“Until then, we continue to run all 48 and hope for the best, prep for the worst.
“Keep it simple: You will be exposed at some point. You will either get sick or not. If you get sick you either survive, or not.
“My biggest worry is when the outbreak gets to the point that the economy shuts down. Drivers start getting sick, go into quarantine along with truck.
“Driver goes into Seattle to deliver but the city goes into quarantine and no one leaves….
“Shippers and receivers shutting down for covid19…
“When you do get sick, do you isolate at a truck stop and ride it out? At what point do you call 911?
“These are the questions keeping me awake.” —rickyboricky
5. “Before it gets better, it’s going to get worse.”
“Before it gets better, it’s going to get worse. We’re really gonna struggle. We do have a little bit of savings, but it’s not going to last that long. If I can’t move my legs or arms, I’ll definitely stay home. But if I only have a cough or have a fever, I would get up and go to work, because I can’t afford to stay home.” —Josue
“In an overnight frenzy, the whole touring industry came to a halt. Singers, comedians, sports, everything that involved touring. Our shows have been canceled and or postponed until at least the end of the summer. Now, I’m left picking up the pieces — trying to keep my new wife happy and trusting in me that I’ll find another job. This is hard. Overnight, mine and thousands of others’ lives fell apart.” —David
6. “Where does a person like me turn for aid?”
“With all the talks in the news from the president about help for working families affected by the outbreak, there hasn’t been any talks about the owner-operator with one truck and a family. Where does that person turn to for aid during this time?”
7. “Be kind to those drivers.”
“Without trucks, the nationwide shortage of toilet paper, paper Towels, food, hand sanitizers, canned goods will never be replenished. In times like these the trucking industry will bring us life’s essentials no matter what conditions. Remember to thank a professional driver when you go to the store to restock your home.
“Myself and all of my fellow professional drivers are doing all we can to get your essentials to the stores. Please be patient, give the trucks plenty of room, and be kind to those drivers. They are working extra hard for every citizen in this country!” —Thomas
8. “Let’s hear it for the truckers.”
“A ton of people are giving shout outs to healthcare and first responders during this current climate. Let’s also remember the over the road truckers who still climb in their tractor rig every 12 hours with loads of food, TP, medical supplies, cleaning supplies, and pretty much everything this nation runs on and deliver it quickly and efficiently. Those truckers live isolated lives which minimizes exposure, you want to see the U.S. get crippled? Those trucks stopping would stop everything including basic health care folks.”
“So let’s hear it for the truckers.” —Anthony
9. “I used plastic gloves when pumping diesel.”
“I read that travelers and healthcare workers are at higher risk, we are travelers first. The rest areas and truck stops are travel centers used by thousands of people daily, imo our biggest threat for contamination, waiting in line for miserable washrooms, showers, fast foods, even around coffee machines. Over past couple of weeks, I stooped for fueling only, used plastic gloves pumping diesel picked the fuel receipt and move, sleep on ramps, I got some food from home, fruits water some instant coffee, and satisfied my needs in bushes, it’s natural good for plants, and safer.” —Johny41
“I do feel like that over time you’ll see that after the initial scare, things will get back to normal. It’s just a matter of time, you know it’s gonna take a few days to get that back on track.” —Donna
10. “Everything at every store is sold out.”
“Like my company won’t say much they will pay us for time for sick pay if we get the virus but I’m young and won’t have serious issues but will need to quarantine myself now the heck would I do that in my truck with limited food no shower??? Would the government pay for a nice hotel room for me? With free food delivery!? I mean I’m not gonna go to a hospital and waste a bed and I hate hospitals what are we gonna do as truckers if we catch this COVID 19 stuff?? Hell I can’t even stock up my truck because everything at every store is sold out spent 3 hours store to store today to get nothing no water or milk or rice and canned foods that we truckers need since we don’t exactly have a darn kitchen.!!! Who cares about us how are we supposed to quarantine ourselves in case we get it I’m not paying for 2 weeks of a hotel too much money!? Anyone got any answers to this??? If I have to stay in my truck I’m gonna go to truck stop for shower and food then you’ll get it makes no sense maybe I’m paranoid but we are all thinking this.” —asphaltcowboy4x4
11. “Normal high-volume areas are dead.”
“Normal high-volume areas are dead. Or the rates sank. I was just at a shipper and normally it’s not busy but a lot of the megas dedicated cheap hauls are stopped and now they are booking the same load as me but for 1/4 of what I haul it for! Now that $4.70 a mile I’m hauling it for will become $1.20 a mile because megas will haul it that cheap. But it’s all good I think when I get home tonight I’ll just stay at home the next couple of weeks and fish.” —379_LARGECAR
“I think that being on the road, away from any base of support is a bad situation. Think about it, you are in the truck with your food and water, hopefully you have at least a few days of it, and then you are stuck somewhere and unable to resupply yourself. If you are actually sick, it will be a bad deal all around.
“Also, being a good company driver who follows company rules, you have no way of defending yourself against people with ill intent who might want to do you harm for whatever the reason.
“Just some stuff to think about if things deteriorate in the just in time supply chain.” —VA CDL HOLDER
12. “It’s sort of like being a soldier off to war.”
“It’s not good to maintain a negative stereotype of a filthy trucker unable to use modern toilets. Besides it only takes one offended person calling the law to arrest you for indecent exposure and so forth. With the way things are today you DO NOT want that problem. YOU WILL guaranteed to get infected in Jail packed in like sardines. (They don’t care. They can bury you or release you. It’s all the same to them.)
“The problem with this covid19 is that infection is already present inside you for weeks before you know anything is wrong and it passed on to others. You do a job in trucking that keeps America rolling, even now more than ever. Sort of as a Soldier off to war. It may be a temporary war for three months or a permanent situation lasting three years or forever to all humans.
“The problem is that we have been just in time for far too long. That needs to be scrapped in favor of warehouses FULL ready to go and load 100 trucks in 8 hours. There are already tens of thousands of unemployed crashing the NY Dept of Labor website which renders any ability to get benefit before April rent is due MOOT. They will be homeless. Wall Street Expects 10 million unemployed by August.
“It would be so easy to replace you in that truck should you get really sick and must stop driving as a casualty of the Covid19. Don’t worry, that rig will keep rolling. There is 50 more lining up behind you waiting until you drop. If you should.
“Again, we cannot really halt the infections, I may be infected already myself. I don’t know until the body gives me a reason to suspect it. Its early yet in the overall battle.” —x1Heavy
13. “I’m wondering how many shipping containers that left Asia six months ago are just now being opened at warehouses all across the country.”
“I’ve had a certain degree of schadenfreude about this.
“Being a ‘poor dumb trucker’ it seems to be infecting the educated elites for now.
“First it was these people that travel to China (a country that hates us, pollutes, steals our manufacturing, and manipulates currency,) on a regular basis. I went to Canada twice.
“Then it affected air travelers.
“(‘Oh Muffy, it’s so nice to avoid that ‘flyover country’!’)
“And now it’s hitting coastal cities.
“Oddly enough, although I usually work NY, I was stranded on a layover in Wisconsin (because I told my dispatcher if I had a delivery on Friday I’d never get a same day reload!) which wasn’t very high on coronavirus hotspots (excluding Chicago)
“And because I had multiple stops on the return load I meandered through rural Ohio for 2 days that seemed a million miles away from the issue (plus no tv and intermittent radio stations, so I wasn’t subjected to 24/7 MSM panic.)
“But some of my friends are more conspiratorial about the virus (bio weapon, Chinese disinformation, etc.) and are going stage 3 prepper.
“Meanwhile I’m wondering how many shipping containers that left Asia six months ago are just now being opened at warehouses all across the country. What boxes the last guy to go through the salad bar at the iron skillet might have touched while unloading, and how completely unprepared this government would be if the pandemic traveled via truck vs airline.” —Infosaur
14. “Panic is a very dangerous thing.”
“Just saw the first person wearing a mask, at Poarch Truckstop in Atmore Al. Wife wants to spend $160 on 3, advertised on the Internet. I say, NO Way, I’d rather take my chances, spend the $160 on a stock that’s currently down. The debate continues. The fact that it could be spreading now, without knowing yet, is concerning. I’m a doubting Thomas, no need to panic, yet. Y2K, The polar reversal, WW3, SARS, What worries Me more is People’s mentality, when driven by fear. A pending snow storm, and they’re fighting over bread and water. Had a Guy try to steal one gallon of drinking water, from my wife in line at grocery once. She had 3 gallons, he had about 20 gallons, but wanted 1 more. Hmmmm that’s worrisome. Panic is a very dangerous thing. The only thing that concerns Me, about this situation.” —Rideandrepair
15. “I have 40-50 people sitting behind me in a closed, climate-controlled environment. Quite the breeding ground to start a localized outbreak.”
“I drive a motor coach, and am local more than I’m out overnight, so I don’t really have to worry about ending up in a quarantine situation (or being sick on the road) away from home, but, I have 40-50 people sitting behind me in a closed, climate-controlled environment. Quite the breeding ground to start a localized outbreak. With the airlines cancelling flights, and people becoming more and more afraid to travel, I suspect that work (which has been scarce all winter) will become equally scarce even during the meat of our tour season.
“I’m not afraid of getting sick, or panicking, but I do believe the situation gets worse before it gets better, and is something we are going to have to try and ride out, for better or for worse.” —Voyager1968
16. “I’m almost out of hand sanitizer and noticed all the truck stops have been sold out all week.”
“I made a quick stop at the Pilot in Nitro, WV last night, and a driver was yelling at the Arby’s staff to change their gloves and wash their hands several times. He kept saying, “there’s too much goin’ on right now.” Meanwhile, he had his hands resting on the hand rail/line bar thingy, then touched his phone and his face.
“So I’m almost out of hand sanitizer and noticed all the truck stops have been sold out all week. I guess people finally decided to stop being slobs.” —Boom Tube
17. “My orders pending summer delivery have been essentially vaporized.”
“My orders pending summer delivery have been essentially vaporized. The Chinese and other factories for those orders are not working now. They will NOT produce or deliver to me in time for summer deadline. If at all.
“USA is dusting off old wartime defense laws requiring production of certain items here in the USA now at any price. The items WILL be produced.
“Pharmacy tells me antibiotics and other medicines strictly made and sourced in China has vaporized in supply. In a few months or less no one will have that stuff at any price such as blood thinners etc. in the USA. I am stockpiling out of existing medicines prescribed to me at very small doses each month so I can ride out any outages this year. IF any. So if Doc prescribed 120 of something, I use 30 and stick the rest into the safe against an unknown supply future. Doc can try to prescribe something else but there is no point. I’m already there at home providing for that future. Just in case.
“I worry about the Internet. The National Grid at the Level3 and other very top-level providers of internet core. If those start getting disrupted, loaded down or whatever then frankly we go back to playing board games here at the house. No internet or technology needed or available. There are two generations of people who don’t know how to function in such a world.
“Weapons and ammunition etc. have been stable a very long time in years. It won’t be the first emergency we faced at the state level or higher. Those who don’t have anything will storm the ammunition and guns sales soon enough. I don’t need to….
“Two companies have admitted that they finally ran out of product. Hand sanitizer and one other item. It will be a while before they make up more batches to ship. Should not take too long while trucks slowly surround the shipping dept and sit for potentially days to load.” —x1Heavy