Truck driver, fleet owner faces isolated surroundings at home

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PORT WILLIAMS, N.S. – Edwin Corkum of Evangeline Transport has been on the road for three weeks. And in many ways, it’s business as usual for his 25-truck operation.

In other ways it isn’t.

Family life has certainly changed in the midst of the pandemic. When Corkum returns home to Nova Scotia, he will be heading into self-isolation for 14 days, even though cross-border truck drivers are not asked to do that unless they show signs of Covid-19 – like a cough, shortness of breath, or a fever.

“I can’t see my wife or grandchildren,” he said. “You have to stay away and not be around anybody. That is affecting the families.”

Drivers are required to self-monitor their health while performing duties, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has also indicated that truck drivers who are off the job are to self-isolate, practice social distancing, and stay at home as much as possible.

“A truck driver’s work schedule will not be impacted by these protocols,” CTA says.

For his part, Corkum tries not to focus on the news, and wants to stay level-headed.

“It is good to have the work,” he said. “For me personally, it is the best three weeks of trucking I have had in years. There is no traffic on the highway. The 401 in Toronto during rush hour, I didn’t have to slack off a bit, and could save an hour of travel. The guys are quite enjoying that part of it. Usually, you are bumper to bumper and it can be very stressful for a driver on the 401. Right now, there is little to no traffic at all.”

But there is still the need to stay safe. Corkum keeps sanitizer, disinfectant and hand wipes in the truck for wiping down his steering wheel, gear shift, and everything else inside the cab.

“If you are careful, the risk is quite controllable and after 21 days it may become habit. There is no harm in that,” he said.

There haven’t been any delays crossing into the U.S., but there have been a few more questions about travel and health status.

“As long as you have your paperwork in order, things are still running smoothly. There have been some small delays in obtaining permits for the oversized and heavy haul as most people are working from home, but that’s about it.”

In the meantime, he wonders about the impact that Covid-19 will have on trucking in the long run.

“How serious it will get? It is hard to say,” he said. “The spot market could tighten and there could be more empty miles.  I fully expect the possibility of our longhaul trucks to be parked.”

But he feels the business will be somewhat buffered by the live chickens that the fleet also moves.

“People have to eat,” he said.

— With files from Arleen Lively

 

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