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What the truck drivers’ life is like
Global | Geneva

What the drivers’ life is like

15 Apr 2020

They are dubbed the unsung heroes of the road, the kings on wheels, the knights of the highway.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, the silver lining comes in the form of recognition for the road transport workers. For over a century, they have been helping people move and delivering goods, behind the scenes. 

Today, they are at the forefront. They continue performing their duty, which they define as simply ‘doing my job’ rather than being heroic. 

“I have been driving for almost 35 years and can’t think of a time when drivers were recognised as much as today. And we’re not doing anything special, just our job,” says John Lex, who works for a US based retail corporation. “But it’s nice that people recognise how vital our job is. It makes you feel proud of what you’re doing.”

Truck driver John Lex
John Lex

Despite the recognition drivers receive online and on the roads, many still struggle when it comes to finding the basics on their journey. 

“While most people and companies love that we are still driving during the COVID-19 pandemic, they still do not allow truck drivers to use their facilities. Toilets remain closed at loading and unloading points. Showers at petrol stations have big lines and are not being cleaned. But, like everyone else, I want to take a shower and be clean before I go back to my cabin to sleep,” says Fons van Bergen, a Dutch international truck driver.

Truck driver Fons van Bergen
Fons van Bergen

And those who have witnessed acts of solidarity in the form of free meals and words of gratitude for all they do, wonder what will happen post Covid-19. Will their contribution to the functioning of the global economy still be acknowledged at the same level?  

“Not many people realise what the drivers’ life is like. Small things like being offered a free cup of coffee, make a big difference. If there is a way to keep things like this in the future, that would be nice, says Timothy Carr, a Spain-based international truck driver. 

“Most of the places we go to, take reasonable steps to keep their workers and us, drivers, safe. What could improve is the coordination between governments, to keep facilities on the road open,” he adds.

Truck driver Timothy Carr
Timothy Carr

Coordination and the joining of forces is what all agree on, as the main ingredient of a successful fight against Covid-19. 

“In China, there is an ancient saying: ‘All men share a common responsibility for the fate of their country.’ I believe that unity is the greatest force in the fight against the virus,” says Shenghua Qu. A former heavy truck driver, Shenghua volunteered to resume his work and help transport essential goods to Wuhan. After spending 70 day away from home, living, sleeping, cooking and making calls home from the cabin of his truck, he was called a hero when he returned home. 

“People’s praise for all I did are not important to me. All I wish is that society gives more understanding to the truck drivers,” said Shenghua.

Truck driver Shenghua Qu
Shenghua Qu

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the spotlight on road transport workers, showing the indispensable role they play in the movement of essential goods. Our drivers are risking their own health to keep supply chains moving with food and medicine and to get people home safely. 

We, in turn, must work together, as a global community, to help them and their employers, navigate through the crisis. IRU stands with you, to keep road transport moving for the people, communities and businesses we serve.