Non-essential businesses are closing down and those employees who can telecommute are working remotely from home. However, many fleet drivers are still on the road supplying the country with much-needed supplies during this challenging time.
There have been so many changes of late that impact driver safety and the way you operate within your daily routine. Not only must you take extra precautions to reduce your risk of potential exposure to COVID-19, the DOT has also suspended certain regulations that may have a significant impact on the way you work. See last week's blog on Frequently Asked Questions regarding coronavirus's impact on drivers.
Health and Safety Measures To Reduce Driver Exposure to COVID-19
We’ve all heard it again and again: Wash your hands and don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
And, they weren’t kidding. From what we know of the virus, it’s highly contagious, can live up to 72 hours on surfaces, and is spread via droplets in the air through sneezing, coughing, and the like. Hence, keeping at least 6 feet between you and the person next to you.
Here are some health and safety tips to help get you through your day:
- Start and end your day with a thorough hand washing with soap and water at your sink for at least 20 seconds.
- Wear nitrile gloves and a mask every day to reduce your chances of contracting the virus from any of the different locations you visit throughout your day.
- If you receive any equipment or supplies during your shift, be sure to spray it down with disinfectant or wipe it down using disinfectant wipes.
- Whenever possible, try to keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and the person you are required to interact with.
- Wear gloves when you use your credit cards, corporate fuel cards or cash and wipe them down (the cards, not the cash) with disinfectant when you get them back. Something as small as your interac card can hold the virus if you’re not careful.
- If you don’t have gloves, do not touch your face and use hand sanitizer to clean your hands every time you come back to your truck.
- At the end of the day, wipe down the inside of your vehicle, including the door, dashboard, seat, door handle, steering wheel, and any other exposed surfaces with spray disinfectant or disinfectant wipes.
- Have a small trash bag with a lid to dispose of soiled gloves and wipes. Make sure you throw away this trash bag at the end of each shift.
DOT Suspends Key Regulations That Impact Drivers
In mid-March, the Department of Transportation suspended some regulations requiring drivers to take off-road breaks while making deliveries. Under normal circumstances, drivers are only permitted to work 14 hour days, with 11 of those actually spent driving. However, these HOS regulations no longer apply to drivers transporting full loads of emergency supplies, like medical equipment related to COVID-19, masks and gloves, groceries, fuel, and equipment for building temporary housing or quarantine spaces. Having said that, drivers still have to take a minimum 10-hour break after they’ve dropped off their emergency loads, and to stop driving if they feel drowsy at any point. Additional details can be found on the FMCSA website.
Truck Stops Work To Remain Open
NATSO, previously the National Association of Truck Stop Operators and also the association that represents the travel plaza and truck stop industry in America, has confirmed that its members will remain open and will work to continue to serve all drivers during the fight against COVID-19.
NATSO president and CEO Lisa Mullings stated that, “Truck drivers are depending on truck stops and travel centers as they deliver food and life-saving supplies. Our members are committed to doing their part during the nation’s response to this emergency. As the nation confronts the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s travel centers and truck stops are committed to remaining open and serving America’s drivers.”
To all our drivers, please stay safe on the road and know that you are playing a huge role in helping the nation get through this pandemic. If you have any other suggestions for how drivers can stay safe on the road, please do share them with us in the comments.
Check back with the Thunder Funding blog for additional information on COVID-19 and its impact on our nation's truck drivers.