The Coronavirus situation has had an impact on the way that people do business across the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic is, according to WHO, still accelerating in some countries. While governments across the world have taken measures to enforce social distancing and lockdown measures, truck drivers have an important role to play in keeping the world moving by delivering food, medicine and other essential goods.
Every day, truck drivers across Europe face the risk of contracting the virus and potentially spreading it to those that they encounter at work, to those they mix with at their HGV Driver Training Centre, and to their families when they return home. Here, we hope to help truck drivers understand their options and the precautions that they could take to keep themselves safe. We’ll explore options, discuss the changes and rules that governing bodies and industry managers are advocating for in their businesses, and make suggestions that will allow you to take to the roads armed with the knowledge and information you need to stay safe in these difficult times.
Is a Truck Driver Considered a Key Worker?
In the UK, certain professions are considered to be key workers. This includes school teachers, NHS staff, those in the food industry and, yes, certain kinds of HGV drivers. According to Gov.uk, truck drivers who deliver veterinary care supplies, medicines or food are classed as key workers.
Recent Changes to Driving Hours Regulations
The demand for food, medicine and other essential goods has increased, and to ensure that the supply is met the Department for Transport has made changes to the regulations for lorry drivers’ permitted hours. These changes are not intended to impact on driver welfare or road safety. The changes that the Department for Transport have introduced are:
- The EU driving limit has been increased from 9 hours a day to 11 hours.
- The daily rest requirements have been lowered from 11 hours per day to 9 hours.
- The weekly driving limit is now 60 hours, up from 56 hours.
- The fortnightly driving limits are now 96 hours, up from 90 hours.
- Drivers are now told to take a 45-minute break after 5.5 hours of driving, instead of 4.5 hours.
Compliance with these new rules is essential in order to prevent fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents. The Department for Transport emphasises that driver safety should not be put at risk. Drivers should never drive if they are tired, and employers still have full responsibility for the health and safety of their employees as well as others on the road.
Hygiene and Safety Recommendations for Truck Drivers
The Government has published a number of guidelines that the general public should follow to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Some of the guidelines are hard for people to follow while they are on the road. There are some precautions that drivers can take in order to stay safe while they are on the road:
- Wash your hands whenever possible, for at least 20 seconds at a time.
- Use anti-bacterial gel if hand washing is not possible.
- Use disposable gloves when refuelling or handling goods.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Practice social distancing, staying two meters away from others when you are not in the truck.
- If you must cough or sneeze, do so into a disposable tissue, and throw it away as soon as possible.
Because truck drivers are key workers, the Road Haulage Association has worked with Public Health England to ensure truck drivers have access to toilets and hand washing facilities at distribution centres across the UK. Use the live truckstop finder from UK Haulier to find open facilities you can make use of.