Truck drivers face difficulties amidst COVID-19 pandemic


GRAND LEDGE, Mich. — On the open road, truck drivers are facing unique challenges and risks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The truck is my home. I mean I’ve been in this truck so far since October of 2019 and haven’t been home yet,” said Wayne Hughes.

Hughes has navigated the roads as a truck driver for more than 30 years, driving 10 to 11 hours a day to support his wife, who is retired and ill.

He said the coronavirus pandemic has made his job a lot harder.

“There is a lot of roadblocks. A lot of different things that we’re– some of it we’re used to some of it we’re not,” Hughes said.

To help stop the spread of the virus, rest areas in some states have shut down along with their restaurants. With trucks being too big to go through drive-thru restaurants, Hughes said food options are very limited.

“Hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese and jelly, ham and cheese, bologna, salami. I sleep out here in this truck and I look forward to going into the truck stop to get a hot meal at night time or early in the morning, get a nice breakfast, but I can’t do it, not anymore, not right now,” Hughes said. “You go home every night, you sit down and you have your dinner that’s because we bring it to the store so you can have it and they’re not taking care of us out here.”

Parking spaces and restrooms are limited too.

“The truck stops have just left us out in the cold.”

Hughes said he wants to continue delivering essential supplies during the pandemic but said safety is always in the back of his mind.

“Every place I deliver to I have to have on a mask and gloves, so no I don’t feel that safe.”

He is hoping truck drivers eventually get free coronavirus testing so that he can head home to Grand Ledge.

“We’re the ones going into these warehouses, all of these places where everybody’s getting sick and going home and they’re closing the warehoues down. I want to go home and I want to be tested to make sure I’m not a carrier or anything.”

Michigan has closed all 14 welcome centers which serve nearly 8 million commercial and non-commercial drivers annually in March. Truck parking is still available, however.

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