The activity of many economic sectors has been slowed down by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, even in this period of uncertainty, many truckers have not been short of work, and difficulties related to crossing borders and finding services on the road are lightened by many solidarity initiatives.
It’s been a year now since the world’s economy has been turned upside down by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. But in a context where entire sectors such as air transport, or the hospitality industry, have been forced to nearly stop, the activity of road freight is going strong for the most part. Cities and industrial facilities still need to be supplied, and goods still need to cross borders, which has put the crucial transportation industry in the spotlight like never before.
The help of technology & solidarity
Truckers have also found creative ways to fight increased isolation and practical difficulties in their daily work due to the pandemic. While closed restaurants and service areas have limited their options for rest, relaxation and socialization, initiatives such as free food trucks at truck stops, or restaurants that remain open especially for truckers have emerged quickly and in many places.
There are also many solutions and tools that exist to help drivers make the best of this peculiar period, specifically thanks to digital technologies. These include things like in-cab cameras and connected wearables capable of detecting drowsiness, and of course the trucks’ built-in anti-collision systems that ring an alarm in case of danger. Combined with the increased caring of transportation company managers, encouraging good nutrition habits and real meal breaks despite the pressure of time, and the solidarity between colleagues, truckers are more frequently than before in good hands through these difficult times.
Staying in touch with colleagues
In terms of reaching out to fellow truckers to get help and information, social media is an obvious tool to turn to. Many Facebook groups, for example, offer information, advice and assistance; often it’s highly specific - for example for truckers who travel certain itineraries, like between the Netherlands and Scandinavia. William de Zeeuw, a Dutch independent trucker who owns his own vehicle and company at the age of 28, drives that route, transporting machinery for the oil & gas industry to and from Norway, and glances at relevant social media pages to stay informed.
“The hardest thing with the pandemic is to keep track of constantly changing rules in every country and adapt to them,” he says. “There are lots of rumors, and the rules can change overnight, so it’s important to get trustworthy information. In addition to staying in touch with colleagues thanks to mobile phones and social media, I look at transport industry websites, and TruckFly is very useful in certain countries.” This popular app has proven a great way for truckers to share information in real time. See below for more details.
Navigating the differences between countries
As William recounts, the early days of the pandemic were particularly tricky to manage, when differences between countries created sometimes challenging situations. “One time in Norway I had to wait 30 minutes at the company’s gate. The guard had to call the office because the goods I was transporting were coming from Germany. Another time, we had to arrange for a Norwegian driver to come and unload my truck for me while I waited, because I had driven from the Netherlands, which was a red area.”
After the very first weeks of lockdown in the Spring of 2020, which created a sudden drop in activity, things picked up quickly for William: “I actually had a really good year. It’s very strange, for us things are going pretty much normally.”
4 Facebook support groups: