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CA truckers facing roadblocks amid coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 8:11 AM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 11:11:02-04

A lot of commerce is shutdown across the country due to the coronavirus so many truckers are out of a job. The professional drivers still working are running into road blocks.

Carlos Garcia, an LA-based trucker, delivered fuel Wednesday to Costco in San Luis Obispo.

"(it was a) pretty smooth ride," Garcia said. "I can make this trip no problem, no traffic heading back either."

These days, the journey from L.A. to San Luis Obispo is a lot quicker for Garcia because California's coronavirus restrictions are keeping people home and off the road.

But what makes his work easier could cause Garcia to lose his job altogether.

"Nobody's driving, gas stations aren't selling as much, they're pretty much topped off so fuel industry is pretty slow right now," Garcia said.

Despite the deep discount in gas, Garcia said demand for fuel is the lowest of his 12-year career.

Changing demand is part of the trucking industry's new normal and the topic of this week's California Trucking Association webinar.

"There are a lot of drivers concerned about getting COVID-19 and we need to make sure they still have the ability to get food, get rest, that kind of thing," Annette Sandberg, an industry consultant, said.

Where truckers once stopped to use the restroom and order lunch may now be closed to the public, including drivers.

"They stop at a McDonald's and sometimes they don't wanna send food through the drive thru window," Garcia said.

Though the pack may be thinning, these drivers do carry essential items.

"Things that are in direct assistance to the pandemic, things like gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, soaps," Sandberg said.

With a long road of uncertainty ahead, Garcia hopes demand for his services don't stall out.

"Bills everything, eventually they're going to catch up to me, everyone," Garcia said.

Many truckers are also having trouble getting appointments to renew their commercial licenses. For CDLs that expired after March 1, the deadline has been pushed to June 30.

Some other regulations are being lifted for truck drivers but speeding and substance use on the job are still prohibited.