In the Covid-19 fight, truck drivers are on the front lines. As always.

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Empty shelves panic buying

It didn’t take long for the panic buying to begin.

Oh, I had heard the stories about people hoarding toilet paper as news of the Covid-19 outbreak emerged. I simply laughed off such buying sprees. There was already a new package of rolls tucked into a closet at home.

The reality of the situation didn’t really set in until I ventured out for a regularly scheduled grocery run.

The shelves that would usually hold toilet paper and paper towels were bare. The dairy case was also devoid of milk. There was plenty of produce and meat to be had, but many other family staples – pasta, pasta sauce, ketchup, frozen vegetables, and frozen pizzas — were long gone.

There was no need to load up the cart any more than usual. I have enough faith in the supply chain to know that the shelves will be restocked. It won’t be long until people who stocked their pantries with toilet paper will realize that they don’t need to buy anymore, for a long while.

When plans emerged to tighten the Canada-U.S. border, I remained confident that the trucks would continue to roll, and that truck drivers who cross the line on a map would be exempted from voluntary 14-day isolation periods.

It’s because those who work in the trucking industry recognize that truck drivers provide an essential service – one of the lifelines that holds society together. If you got it, as we all like to say, a truck brought it. The temporary gaps in store shelves might help to remind members of the general public.

Still, I worry about anyone on the front lines of this fight.

The business of trucking continues despite so many changes and challenges. Truck drivers have informed us about shippers that won’t accept paperwork or create new barriers to facilities. There are new cleaning measures to consider for the trucks themselves. As governments discuss plans to shutter offices, trucking associations want to know what that will means if permits and licences expire. Tighter border procedures mean new questions to answer. And what services will be available for drivers when they pull into a truck stop?

As the Today’s Trucking and team chases down answers to questions like these, I know there are other questions that we can’t address, though.

Those who climb behind the wheel have their own families to worry about, their own pantries to stock, their own concerns about the state of the economy, their own questions about public health, their own need to stay healthy.

But when it’s time to roll, they drive. Because that’s what truckers do.

They deserve our thanks and recognition for that.

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Not the first time truckers have put there life second for the welfare of everyone else. The trucks never stop rolling. Sure would be nice to get some thanks for the job we do not that we ever ask for it. We do it because it has to be done. To my brothers of the road be careful out there and stay healthy and safe. Thank you John for saying something long overdue.

    • My husband is also a trucker and they don’t get any praises or thanks what so ever. Without you guys this world would be in famine. Let’ give a great big Hell Yeah to the truckers.s

  • Keep well all of you that are serving our countries with providing all of us the necessities by delivering them to places where we can access them in order to be comfortable during this difficult time.
    I would also like to say that on a regular daily basis you have tolerated people in vehicles cutting you off, driving slow and generally making your travels difficult on a daily basis. Please enjoy your travels as there will be less vehicles on the road during this difficult time.

  • How about giving truck drivers a nice big bonus for a change we are hard workers Year around no matter if there’s a pandemic we are still hard workers we always go 24 seven and always go the extra mile for everybody. I am happy to be serving the country I’ve been out here for 45 years I just want to say everybody stay home Us truckers will take care of you. Tk u

  • Thank you John. Also it will be greatly appreciated if we the trucking companies can get FAIR rates to go to all locations across Canada and US. As we all know the small scale trucking industry is literally dying in Canada due to cheaper freight rates and high costs for insurance, fuel and repairs… I urge all the brokers out there to be FAIR when you are offering the rates to the trucking companies. All these companies are at higher risk because their drivers are on the roads and with the increase in COVID-19 cases, we don’t even know when there will be a restriction imposed for the drivers travelling to and from US-CAN.

  • As a truck driver working on the front line should it be that our government should make companies supply their front line workers with proper safety clothing ie gloves and masks??? The food chain I work for is called Booker which is owned by Tesco’s and they have only put up some hand sanitiser at the depot and supplied a tub of wet wipes that drivers can take some from to use to clean the inside of the truck cab at the start of the shift. I feel that we are being sent out to do our job on the front line which in the situation we are all in with Covid-19 it is scary and stressful and having to do it without any health protection!!