Helping local truck drivers during COVID-19 pandemic
IDAHO FALLS — During a pandemic such as the novel coronavirus, people who work tirelessly around the clock to help others first are often overlooked. This is how many American truck drivers feel right now, and they are asking for help.
For employees of Super T Transport, a trucking company based out of Idaho Falls, life on the road has been a struggle with COVID-19 sweeping across the nation. Super T Transport President and CEO Heath Treasure recognizes that right now, people everywhere are in a bind. But for his drivers who are trying to restock shelves as quickly as possible, they are losing out on family time, sleep, food and are putting their health in jeopardy by delivering to high-risk COVID-19 areas.
“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the federal government have lifted the hours of service regulations that the drivers have to adhere to,” Treasure told EastIdahoNews.com. “Those drivers adhere to those hours of service regulations on a weekly basis and have done for several years. They’ve lifted those hours of service regulations … for the purpose that they want the goods to be delivered quicker and faster.”
Treasure said what they’ve done is beneficial, but at the same time, it’s affecting truck drivers in various ways.
“Really (what the changes mean are), we’re asking our drivers and giving them authorization to work even harder than what they’ve been or able to do in the past 10 years,” Treasure said. “The drivers are getting worn out. Many of them have missed their home shifts two or three times by now because of this coronavirus … when typically, they’ll be able to see their family on a weekly basis in regular circumstances.”
When the truckers are on the road, they’re often stopping at fast food locations for a quick bite. But due to COVID-19, some restaurants are only open via drive-thru and their trucks usually can’t fit in a drive-thru. Treasure said that forces them to settle for a candy bar and soda pop so they can get back to driving.
Truck driver Amber Compton was in Nebraska on Friday afternoon. She was on her way back to Idaho Falls to pick up another load to deliver.
“Finding stuff for ourselves (has been the hardest part on the road),” she said. “Truck stops are bought out and if they aren’t bought out, (items) are super expensive, and the place where I fueled up last night, the showers were turned off.”
In some states, state agencies have barricaded off the restroom areas on the side of the highways, Treasure said. This is where many truck drivers pull over to sleep.
“It’s a problem that is spurred up that they’ve never had to deal with before,” he said.
They’re also finding themselves in similar situations as many other people who go to the grocery store, and the items they need are sold out. But for truck drivers, they restock the shelves, only to go back after they finished their job to find the things they need are gone.
“Everybody needs what we’re hauling,” Compton said. “We’re still looking for stuff for ourselves and our families.”
Treasure said they are providing bonuses to the drivers as an act of appreciation, but they are asking the community for donations to show gratitude for the drivers too. He’s aware that stores are running low on items, but he said if any community members have canned food and non-perishable items sitting around such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, gloves, bottled water and hand sanitizer and would like to donate them, to please do so.
They will put the items in a care package for their drivers to pick up and take on the road.
“It may be as simple as one can of Campbell’s soup — anything they can come up with for a care pack. That’s one meal for that driver for that day that he doesn’t have to fight to find someplace to eat. He can stay on the road and continue to deliver those groceries into the supply chain,” Treasure said.
The Idaho Falls donation dropbox location is at 2535 N. Boulevard. There’s also a facility at 560 W 400 North in Hyrum, Utah, and 5227 N. 7th St. in Phoenix, Arizona.
“They’re true American heroes in my eyes,” Treasure said.