The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has swept across the work at unprecedented rates, a fact that all of us know. Across Europe and the rest of the world, governments have imposed social distancing and lockdown measures that are enforced by the police. At this time truck drivers still have a vital role to play in society, especially when they are required to deliver essential goods, like food and medicine. Every day, truck drivers risk contracting the virus and also becoming potential spreaders of the virus to all of those that they come in contact with every day at work, as well as to their family members. With this in mind, in recent weeks, governing bodies and senior management in the trucking industry have been giving advice on changes and rules that they advocate and seek to implement, all of which are part of this blog. The aim is to make sure that truck drivers are well-informed when they take to the road so that they are well-protected during these perilous times.
Are Truck Drivers Key Workers?
During this pandemic, HGV drivers are considered important, just as NHS staff, school teachers and those in the food industry are; this is why many drivers are seeking to renew their HGV licences. As per Gov.co.uk, truck drivers are key workers when they deliver medicine, food and veterinary care goods.
Drivers’ Hours Rules Change
With the increasing demand for essential goods, like medicine and food, there is an increased demand for truck drivers who can deliver these goods. That has led to the Department of Transport relaxing the existing regulations on the driving hours of lorry drivers so that it is in line with the demand for goods during the pandemic; although care has been taken not to affect road safety or driver welfare. These are the changes:
- The EU driving limit has been increased from 9 to 11 hours a day
- Daily rest requirements see a reduction to 9 hours from the earlier 11 hours
- Driving limits for the week go up to 60 hours from the earlier 56
- Fortnightly limits for driving go up to 96 hours from the earlier 90 hours
- A 45-minute break can be taken after 5.5 hours, instead of 4.5 hours.
These amended rules must be adhered to so that fatigue, and as a consequence, accidents are avoided. The Department of Transport has made it clear that driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers must not be expected to drive when they are tired, and their employers have to assume responsibility for the safety and health of their employees as well as other road users.
Hygiene Safety on the Road
Governments have been releasing guidelines that the public is required to follow so that spread of Coronavirus is prevented, but these guidelines may be difficult to follow when you are on the road.
However, there are ways that drivers can help in reducing the spread of the virus while they are on shift:
- As often as is possible, wash your hands for 20 seconds with an anti-bacterial gel
- Use disposable gloves when you need to handle gloves or have to refuel
- Never touch your face
- When you are out of the truck, maintain a distance of 2 metres from others
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and dispose of that tissue straightaway.
Truck drivers are key workers, and this has led to the Road Haulage Association in conjunction with Public Health England to ensure that truck drivers have access to handwashing and toilet facilities at many distribution centres in the UK. UK Haulier has a live finder for truckstops that can be of help to you in these times.