Rick Hall drives his semi from Wellsville to Fort Worth Texas and back. He said the Coronaviras is making it hard to take breaks along his route due to restrictions put by state governments.
WELLSVILLE – Trucking industry in America is the lifeblood of the U. S. economy. Over 70 percent of all freight is hauled by big rigs on our highways. Until coronavirus took hold, the industry moved goods with few hitches.
Things have changed with the crippling virus that has held many Americans hostage. As states try to keep their residents safe, some states have made it more difficult for truck drivers to deliver their goods.
The American Trucking Association boasts trucks move 10.5 billion tons of freight a year.
The Center for Disease Control and prevention said cargo trucking is part of the critical infrastructure essential to maintaining the nation’s continuity of operations in the event of an influenza (flu) pandemic (a worldwide outbreak of a novel flu virus).
Jake Hunsaker, a recruiter and marketer for Sharps Transportation Inc. in Wellsville, said their 120 trucks and trailers haul food and paper goods in the lower 48 states. Most of their work, however, is done in the 11 western states.
Truckers are hauling not only food, but also medical supplies, surgical masks and other products needed to battle the virus.
“The coronavirus is scaring the drivers just like everyone else,” Hunsaker said. “They are still going to truck stops. They are paranoid they are going to catch the virus.”
Some drivers are experiencing states trying to keep the virus from spreading, hampering an industry crucial to transporting goods across the country.
“All of the rest stops in Pennsylvania are closed,” Hunsaker said. “Many truck stops are closing down making it hard for the drivers to find food, take a break and go to the restroom as often as they like too.”
There is plenty of freight going and coming and what we are hearing is their biggest difficulty is different states are doing different things to prevent the virus spread, slowing down drivers.
“From state to state the drivers have different rules to follow and it’s putting a strain on them,” he explained.
Rick Hall, a truck driver who drives from Wellsville to Fort Worth, Texas and back, said he looked forward to going into a a truck stop and taking a break, getting some food and getting on his way.
“Things have changed. They have shut down driver’s lounges so we are eating more fast food,” he said. “Finding a place to park is more difficult now.”
When truck stops and rest stops close, truckers have to park where they can to sleep. That means if everything is closed they find a place along the highway to take a break. In some states it is illegal to stop along the highway and it is difficult to find somewhere to spend the night.
Hall set out to find toilet paper in different states because he thought the food hoarding was only in Utah.
“When I tried to buy groceries in New Mexico it was the same empty shelves as we have here,” he said.
Business Weekly reported there about 1.8 million truck drivers maneuvering the highways in the United States.