BELLEVILLE, Ont. – Satinderpal Aujla, an owner-operator with International Truckload Services, still can’t believe the drop in traffic during these days of Covid-19.
“The traffic is light. Almost half way down,” he says. “Now even the truck stops are not that full.”
And where it typically takes an hour to cross the Canada-U.S. border at Windsor, Ont., there is barely a pause at the customs booths. “Most of the time half the booths are empty,” he adds. The trips are quicker in spite of that.
There are still delays, though. It seems to be taking longer for receivers to unload goods at their destinations, with many new protocols in place. And that is eating into many of the gains that are realized through lighter traffic along highways and border crossings alike.
“In terms of miles, we are not doing as much as we used to because we are waiting,” he says.
One of the newer challenges, though, is ensuring extra food is always close at hand during any trip. Many of the traditional truck stops he would otherwise visit are closed. He always carries an extra two days of supplies because of it.
“It’s kind of scary,” he says, referring to the cross-border assignments. The news is filled with reports about a rising number of cases and deaths. So he leaves the radio off for much of the drive.
Aujla stresses that ITS is doing its part to keep drivers safe, however, and that shippers are taking precautions of their own.
There are signs that the work is appreciated by others, too. People are waving at him from bridges these days. When stopped at a rest area in Michigan earlier this week, someone was sharing boxes of pizza.
“A lot of people are offering free food to the drivers,” he says, referring to the support. “I took a piece.”
– This is one in a series of reports on the experiences of truck drivers and other members of the trucking industry amid the fight against Covid-19
Have your say
We won't publish or share your data