Despite increased necessity for truck drivers, wages continue to fall during pandemic

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — While many people are staying at home to be safe and stop the spread of the coronavirus, truckers are told to stay on the road to keep the store shelves full.

“I’ve been driving trucks for about 13 years,” said driver Teressa Smith, adding she always loved the freedom the job afforded her.

Smith has owned her own truck for six years. She’s proud to be hauling essential products, but worries about the hours truckers are driving. The 11 hour limit has been raised to 14 for now, and she says life on the road is more difficult.

“You can’t get a good, hot ,healthy meal. Some of the places will not allow us to use their restrooms. Some of the places we’re picking up and delivering to will not allow us to use their restrooms,” she said.

Smith said the biggest change the pandemic has caused is how much independent drivers are getting paid. Compensation has dropped dramatically.

“You can’t make a living at all doing that,” she said.

For instance, in the past she’d drive a load 900 miles for $1,800. Smith now said the same route only pays $1,100.

And maintenance on a truck is pricey. She recently had an $1,800 repair bill.

“At the end of the week, you only clear like $700-$800. And that’s not even covering our operations cost,” she said.

There are an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in America, but there’s been a shortage the last few years.

So those hauling important supplies and food for grocery stores are more important now than ever, even as they battle lower wages.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved


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