Being a lorry or large goods vehicle driver has never been easy. From the long hours to the many risks they take on a daily basis, hauling freight is not for everyone.
With the current coronavirus outbreak, the quarantine measures in place have made the work increasingly important, but at the same time, significantly harder and more dangerous. In this time of need, these drivers deserve as much respect as those in the food, retail, and even healthcare industries.
A Day in the Life of Lorry Drivers
Lorry drivers are tasked with transporting large amounts of goods over vast distances. Not your typical 9-5, they often need to follow strict schedules that sometimes compel them to sleep in motels, motorway services, or even their own cabs just to deliver on time.
There is a certain art and science to driving vehicles as big as a lorry. It doesn’t look easy, because it’s not. These drivers are required to undergo training and obtain a specialised license called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, before they can legally drive those mammoths on the road, where the real challenge starts. From the limited vision to the enormous size and weight of lorries, these drivers need to be more aware and alert than most – even a slight lapse in attention or judgment can be catastrophic.
Vehicle maintenance is another huge factor for lorry drivers. Although the drivers usually belong to business organisations that mostly shoulder the regular maintenance costs and repair jobs of these lorries, and innovations like fleet management applications do help, when they’re on the road, drivers are ultimately responsible for the smooth operation of their vehicles. This is why it pays that they understand their machines inside out.
Drivers also need to have a good grasp of geography. They don’t necessarily have to have intimate knowledge of all the roads they will go through, although that would definitely help. They still need a general understanding of how the road system works and have an idea of the terrain.
Covid-19 Key Workers
There are already a lot of challenges to driving lorries even before the outbreak. Now, as their job takes on a new level of importance, it has also become more difficult.
In this article by the UK Government, lorry drivers and the hauling industry in general have been included in the list of industries that are essential to keep the country running during prescribed quarantines. It makes sense since store shelves need to be stocked, restaurants need food deliveries, and hospitals need to get equipment and medicines.
But the outbreak adds another layer of risk to the already complicated work of lorry drivers. They’re more exposed to possible infection since they likely travel more than most because of quarantines. They also deal with different people and industries and handle a lot of different loads.
Unfortunately, there are some who see this risk and decide that lorry drivers should be treated differently. In this article posted on The Guardian, some businesses are said to have denied bathroom access to lorry drivers. It has since been sorted by Public Health England, but these incidents still raise important concerns about how difficult their jobs really are.
Being a lorry driver is difficult, especially now, when they’re needed the most. Hopefully, the world catches on and treats them with the same respect and appreciation as those working in other essential industries.