Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officials say the agency plans on distributing one million protective face masks to the nation’s truck drivers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 800,000 of the masks will be made available to drivers at rest areas, CHP field divisions, and inspection stations in various states while another 200,000 masks will go directly to trucking companies.
Distribution began as early as April 30 in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, and Texas. Drivers can check for places and times on the FMCSA official website: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/masks.
Truck drivers have been sounding alarm signals since early March about a lack of protective equipment, including masks. In fact, the entire nation, especially hospitals, have been scrambling for personal protective equipment (PPE) since the pandemic gripped the nation six weeks ago.
Even the largest trucking companies have had trouble procuring PPE. Companies have also had trouble getting sick drivers back home with many of them left on the road to self-quarantine in truck stops, potentially infecting other drivers. This issue has led the FMCSA to modify hours-of-service rules.
To keep the U.S. economy going, it will be essential to keep truck drivers safe. Many drivers were already challenged by health-related problems. Key among those is the fact that a large number of drivers lack health insurance. In fact, drivers are twice as likely as other working Americans to not be covered. In addition, many drivers are also not eligible for paid sick leave.
Truckers are also more likely than average Americans to be obese or have diabetes, which makes them particularly vulnerable to possible complications if they become infected by the coronavirus. But, with approximately 70% of U.S. freight hauled by trucks, it is crucial that the nation does all it can to keep drivers healthy and on the road.