The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic currently sweeping across the globe is unprecedented. Governments across the world are enforcing social distancing measures and lockdown measures to flatten the curve of the virus. Key essential workers are still in place providing goods and services to people who need them and among them are truck drivers. They play a very important role in society by delivering essential goods such as medicine and food.
Every day they are on the road, truck drivers have a higher risk of contracting coronavirus and spreading it to other people they encounter including family members. Well, there is a need to create rules, consolidate changes and get the best advice to implement regarding truck drivers and their jobs. Any truck driver on the road should be well-informed and protected during the coronavirus era. CPC Driver Training can help with this.
Are Truck Drivers Considered Key Workers?
HGV drivers are essential workers in the pandemic just like food industry workers, school teachers and the NHS staff. According to the UK government, truck drivers delivering goods such as food, medicine or veterinary care are essential or key workers.
The Changes to Drivers’ Hours Rules
There is an increasing demand for essential goods such as medicine and food. As such, there is an increased demand for truck drivers to deliver these goods to people who need them. The Department for Transport has relaxed the previous regulations in place regarding the driving hours for lorry drivers.
Now, truck drivers can meet and support the demand of essential goods during the coronavirus pandemic. These changes will not affect road safety or driver welfare. Changes to working hours include the following.
- EU driving limit is now 11 hours per day, an increase from 9 hours.
- Daily rest requirements have been reduced to 9 hours from 11 hours per day.
- Weekly driving limits are now 60 hours, an increase from 56 hours every week.
- Fortnightly driving limits have increased to 96 hours from 90 hours.
- After every 5.5 hours on the road, the driver should take a 45-minute break. Previously, it was after 4.5 hours.
Truck drivers and their companies should adhere to these new rules to prevent fatigue or road accidents. The Department for Transport has stated clearly that the safety of the driver should never be compromised. As such, drivers should not be forced to drive when they are tired. Employers are responsible for the overall health and safety of their drivers and other road users.
Following Hygiene Safety While on the Road
Recently, the government released a number of guidelines that the public should follow to prevent the spreading of coronavirus. Note that some of these guidelines are tougher to follow for truck drivers on the road. While on shift, drivers can use the following measures to reduce the spread of the disease. These include the following.
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. Use an anti-bacterial gel often as an alternative.
- Use disposable gloves when handling goods or refuelling.
- Avoid touching your face.
- When you are out of the truck, you should keep a 2-metre distance.
- Sneeze or cough in a tissue and dispose it immediately after use.
Since truck drivers are essential workers, the Road Haulage Association together with Public Health England are working together to ensure that truck drivers have access to toilets and handwashing facilities in distribution centres all over the UK.