HOUSTON – Long-haul trucking has not slowed down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trucker Pierre Exantus was enroute to New Jersey on Friday, hauling 39,000 pounds of avocados.
“What’s going on right now is very scary,” he said. “But people have to eat.”
Exantus like many other long-distance drivers is going the extra mile to make sure store shelves get restocked.
Wade Coffey, who drives for Grace Freight, just dropped off 18,000 pounds of toilet paper in Houston.
“We’re just people, trying to help,” he said. “We’re doing our job and doing what we can.”
Coffey’s 48-foot trailer was packed with the hottest commodity around.
“Hopefully it’ll help ease the tension around toilet paper,” Coffey said.
Per federal declaration, drivers hauling items for coronavirus relief are not subject to typical drive-time limitations. Not everyone is a fan of the ease on regulations.
Danny Hines said he will stick to the standard rule: 11 hours behind the wheel, 10 hours of rest.
“In my opinion, [the eased regulations are] a lot more dangerous,” Hines said. “You get tired and like with the weather going on right now, accidents are going to happen.”
In addition to the long hours, Tesfaye Galeta said drivers are facing some unique coronavirus-related challenges, especially when it comes to personal hygiene.
“The rest stop bathrooms… a lot of people come in, come out,” Galeta said. “You don’t know who comes in and out, and then we shower, but you don’t know who has taken a shower there.”
Driver James Burleson said he has trouble finding food on the road.
“Trucks won’t fit in regular drive-throughs,” Burleson said. “With the restrictions on the dining areas being closed and drive-through and deliveries the only thing available, what does a truck driver do?”