Even before the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the shipping industry was hurting for truck drivers. After the outbreak started, the situation only got worse. Many drivers got sick and were unable to work, while others did not want to work due to the possibility of encountering many people over the course of their job.
This has created an excellent opportunity for people to attend an Ontario trucking school and enter the shipping industry. Companies are desperate for drivers, so finding work is virtually guaranteed for anyone capable of doing the job. However, the problem remains: how does one remain safe when COVID-19 and its variants are still a significant threat in many places across North America?
In this guide, we’ll talk about safety precautions you can take to reduce your chances of becoming infected, or of accidentally spreading an infection. No method is 100% safe, but with a little extra initiative, you can make disease-free truck-driving reasonably possible.
Six Ways to Reduce the Dangers Of Disease While Driving A Truck
1 – Get vaccinated
If you haven’t already received one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines, that absolutely should be your first action. Becoming vaccinated will vastly reduce your chances of becoming infected or spreading an infection. Remember, most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses, spaced out by 2-3 weeks, so plan ahead.
Also, keep in mind that no vaccine is 100% effective, although the approved vaccines generally provide 99%+ protection against the most common form of COVID. However, new variations – such as the fast-spreading Delta variant – can overcome the vaccine more often. Even if you’re vaccinated, you still need to play it safe.
2 – Keep up on vaccination rates by area
Most Canadian provinces and US states publish statistics on how much of their population has been vaccinated. This is useful for you to know since it will give you a rough idea of how safe each delivery is likely to be. The higher the vaccination rates, the less you must worry.
For those who are independent operators, you might even be a bit selective in what jobs you take. Much of the US deep south, for example, still have extremely low vaccination rates – less than 50% in states like Mississippi and Louisiana. Avoiding runs to those areas might be a good idea if you’re concerned about infection or you’re in a high-risk medical group.
3 – Wear a mask in public
Many public places are still requiring facial masks, scarves, or bandanas when people visit, so you should be prepared to keep wearing a mask. This is good practice in general. Even after COVID-19 is over, it’d be a good idea to keep a mask around to wear if you ever catch a cold or flu. It protects the people around you, and your fellow drivers.
Remember to avoid touching your face while you’re wearing your mask or use hand sanitizer afterward if you do need to touch it. Also, if you’re using a washable/reusable mask, it should be washed and disinfected every day to prevent diseases from building up on its exterior.
4 – Practice social distancing
One benefit to being a truck driver is that you’re going to be spending many hours alone in your cab, where you don’t have to worry too much about the virus. Unfortunately, maintaining social distancing in public will still be a concern – especially in areas with low vaccination rates, or where masks aren’t required.
As a few basic suggestions:
- Use radio, phones, or teleconferencing for communication rather than face-to-face meetings whenever possible.
- Avoid shaking hands.
- Always call ahead to pick-up and drop-off sites to make sure they’re ready for your arrival, to reduce the amount of time you’re standing around with others.
- If possible, work with companies that are using all-electronic processes to avoid dealing with physical paperwork.
- Keep as much food and beverages in your truck as possible, to limit the number of stops you must make on the road. This might be a good time to invest in some cooking tools designed for truck cabs if you don’t have any.
- If you must help with loading/unloading, wear gloves and then make sure to dispose of them or wash them afterward.
4 – Keep your cab clean
Your cab is less likely to become a vector for infection, but it’s still a good idea to practice extra cleanliness. This is particularly important for the off chance that you yourself get infected since it will reduce the chances of your truck spreading disease around.
- Regularly clean and disinfect things you touch frequently, such as the steering wheel, gear shift, turn signal, and door handles.
- Keep alcohol hand sanitizer near your seat and make use of it often – especially whenever you’ve had to get out of the vehicle.
- Make sure to clean up any messes, such as from food preparation.
- Don’t let strangers into your cab.
5 – Know which stops will be clean
Many shipping companies are maintaining lists of facilities such as truck stops that are known to be enforcing good social distancing and cleanliness habits. You can also find forums and other sources online discussing which roadside facilities are likely to be safe. Try to stick to these and avoid “hole in the wall” stops where you don’t know what the sanitation is like.
6 – Know the symptoms
It’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms of COVID and other serious diseases, in others as well as yourself. This includes relatively common symptoms such as a high fever and headaches, as well as more COVID-specific symptoms such as sudden loss of smell or taste.
Be willing to report people who appear to be sick but are still working with drivers. Likewise, if you suspect you’re sick, wrap up your current job as quickly as possible and then get tested. No one wants to be a ‘typhoid Mary’ spreading diseases around as they drive.
Again, there’s no 100% foolproof way to prevent the spread of disease while driving a truck. However, if you follow these tips, you’ll be as safe as reasonably possible. That could put you well ahead of the game if you’re looking at attending an Ontario trucking school and moving into trucking!
5th Wheel Training Institute Provides an Excellent Trucking Education
5th Wheel Training Institute is one of the oldest and most respected trucking schools in Ontario. We have a highly experienced faculty, dedicated on-site facilities for hands-on practice in simulated work environments, and exceptional hire rates among our graduates. Thanks to our close contacts with major shipping companies across North America, many of our graduates have jobs waiting just as soon as they’re licensed!
If you’re ready for an exciting and lucrative new career, click here to learn more about us!