Supporting Professional Drivers
The current Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the lack of understanding of the role of the professional driver. Stakeholders in road transport industry have not embraced the role of the professional driver. There is nothing new about drivers being refused the use of toilet facilities. There is nothing new about drivers being refused access to rest facilities. There is nothing new about drivers being denied access to their own cabs while delivering at RDC’s. There is nothing new about drivers being asked to sit at border crossings without services. There is nothing new about drivers not being able to find suitable overnight parking. There is nothing new about drivers transporting perishable goods being refused overnight parking because of the noise of diesel powered refrigerated units. There is nothing new about dealing with the shortage of professional drivers by importing drivers from lower wage economies. There is nothing new about degrading the role of the professional driver to that of manual labour.
Front line healthcare workers are fully supported by their industry. Full PPE and training to protect them from infection. The home delivery driver in comparison gets nothing like that support. The home delivery driver is very much so in the front-line, with nothing like the support of the healthcare or emergency services worker. The professional driver that has twenty plus deliveries or collections of medical waste, medical supplies, or food or essential home appliances to and from homes every day, has nothing like the support of the emergency services. The support the professional driver gets is an increase in working time and reduction in rest time regulations.
In 2010 when the country came to a standstill because of the Big freeze, it was the professional drivers who delivered food, fuel, factory supplies and essential medical supplies, keeping the country moving. Believe me, we did it because that’s what had to be done. Professional drivers are team players. They support one another and are fully aware of the importance of their role.
Today’s crisis is no different to the Big Freeze or the 2018 freeze. Professional drivers will leave the security and safety of their homes to ensure that they play their part in ensuring essential services are delivered. So it is time that their commitment to the service to the road transport industry is rightly recognised. Industry stakeholders, like yourselves need to ask, what can you do to support and promote the role of the professional driver. The European Professional Drivers Association is asking industry stakeholders in the road transport industry to support the creation of a recognition programme for professional drivers.