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Eric Fors says he and other truck drivers around the world understand how important it is for them to do their part.
Fors first got behind the wheel of a truck just over a year ago. After working in the communications field for over 20 years, he said he decided to take a different career path.
During the job search, Fors was searching for careers that were in high demand and critical for the needs of our society. He decided to get his commercial driver license [CDL], and he has been on the road ever since.
Like many Americans, Fors said he never imagined working during a national pandemic, but he wanted to keep the supply chain moving.
While many people have been working from home, the trucking industry has worked to adapt to the current crisis. Fors has been on the front lines away from his family for weeks at a time, in order to deliver essential goods.
“It definitely is tough because I know my wife and daughter are basically staying in the house, there isolated in place. That definitely can be hard. I try and talk to them multiple times a day when I can," Fors said.
Fors has been making deliveries between the Atlanta area and across the southeast. Usually, he’d work on a “dedicated route” driving products for only one company, but since the pandemic started, his routes have shifted.
“We’re not just doing it for our families – we’re doing it for your families."
“They swapped us around and gave us more routes so we could help some of these other dedicated accounts with the increase in demand. We’re trying to assist as much as we can to keep the supply chain moving,” Fors said.
Truck drivers can be on the road for weeks.
“We’re out there still running and we’re trying to keep everything flowing. Just be patient and be kind to each other, and we’ll get all the stuff to the stores when you need it,” Fors said.
Executives with the American Trucking Association said they’ve been working with the federal, state and local governments to keep over 70 percent of the economy moving.
President and CEO Chris Spear said the group “has been aggressively engaged in coordinating with those decision-makers to make sure that people don’t go without, and that those medical professionals, most importantly, have what they need.”
The association has been working to make sure essential workers, especially health-care workers, got the supplies they needed to fight the COVID-19 battle.
“Specifically in dealing with the pandemic, those medical professionals have to have the emergency supplies, the test kits. That all comes off a truck, so there are dedicated lanes being run to ensure the hardest hit, as well as nationwide hospitals, have what they need and can deal with this coronavirus head-on,” Spear said.
NFI, a leading supply chain based in New Jersey, has had over 3,000 trucks on the road and has been working with its employees to adapt to COVID-19 and stay safe.
“We look at our driver workforce as being heroes on the street, having to deal with making deliveries into some pretty tough places,” CEO Sidney Brown said.
While truck drivers have been making deliveries around the clock, they’ve been taking precautions to stay safe.
“When we stop at truck stops, that’s one of the small windows where we do come in contact with other people. Truck driving, in general, is a very isolated job. There’s signs everywhere that say, listen, we’re all trying to follow the guidelines related to COVID-19, please do your best to protect yourself – other truck drivers and our employees to do the same,” Fors said.
According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the country saw an unprecedented level of truck movement in March, a pivotal month for the coronavirus in the United States.
“Trucks are moving at a higher speed, there is less traffic on the roads due to the quarantines in many cities and that’s actually allowing our trucks to get where they need to go quicker and more efficient,” Spear said.
Although many Americans have been working from home in response to stay-at-home orders, truck drivers are considered essential workers.
“These are moms, they’re dads, they’re husbands, they’re wives – these are real people behind the wheel and they’re doing amazing things, they do it day in and day out,” Spear said.