Has SARS affected your routes or your operations at all?

by Katy de Vries

LONDON, Ont. – The latest viral phenomenon to hit the streets has been a deadly one. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has left many around the world fearful and hoping that research labs can find the cause and a cure.

Not only have precaution warnings been issued by airlines, workplaces and hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but the World Health Organization placed a travel ban on the city. This ban affected the tourism industry negatively and has had an influence on the public’s attitudes towards health care and the operation of city hospital systems.

But has it affected those in the transportation industry who pick up and deliver loads in and around the GTA? Truck News visited the Flying J travel stop in London, Ont. to find out how drivers passing through the GTA feel about the SARS outbreak.

Wayne McIntosh, an owner/operator from Winnipeg, Man., says the SARS scare hasn’t affected his route at all but does raise a red flag in terms of travelling through the GTA.

“I’m bringing a load up from California to Montreal and I haven’t been through here for a while but it is certainly something that concerns me,” says McIntosh. “I don’t really think drivers will be near the front lines of it but it is something that everyone should be careful with,” he adds.

“I’m not worried at all about SARS,” says Anatoliy Savchenko, a driver for Aqua Terra, of Mississauga, Ont. “The company I work for hasn’t been concerned about it, so it’s not something I really think about at all.”

The SARS epidemic has alarmed Roland Maraj, an O/O from Sutton, Ont., but it hasn’t affected his company’s operations or his job in any way.

“SARS should cause some concern for drivers and for everyone, really. I am concerned about it but it hasn’t stopped me or slowed me down in any way,” says Maraj.

Bryce Wilkins, O/O from Thamesville, Ont. feels SARS shouldn’t stop someone from carrying out their responsibilities.

“If you’re going to get sick, you’re going to get sick, no matter if something like the SARS outbreak happens or not. This is uncontrollable and it could have hit anywhere. Unfortunately it hit Toronto, but I’ve got 35 years driving in and out of Toronto so I’m really not concerned too much about it,” says Wilkins.

Ira Dickerson says his company, Wilie Sanders Truck Lines of Troy, Ala., told him it was safe to come to Canada and drive through Toronto, so he’s not concerned about the scare.

“I think drivers should be aware of the situation, not only because it has the potential to harm them but also because they should know what’s going on in the world around them. But as far as being leery of driving through the city, maybe if you have to deliver to hospitals, but other than that I don’t think it is a big problem for us,” says Dickerson.

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