I recently obtained my commercial driver’s license (CDL), primarily so I could help my father haul sap during maple syrup season, and drive for our family farm if needed during harvest time.
Little did I know that only a few short weeks later COVID-19 would spread like wildfire throughout the world. Not that I wasn’t already peripherally aware, but this opened my eyes to just how important it is to have that CDL.
There are nearly 2 million long-haul truck drivers in the United States. These drivers are unable to live or work at home during their trips, and often spend weeks on the road at any given time. That means sleeping in cabs, showering at truck stops, and eating while constantly on the go.
Now more than ever people are realizing just how critical truckers are to keep America functioning. Truckers are the reason that grocery stores, hospitals, online retailers, gas stations and ATMs remain stocked. Practically everything we possess or come in contact with has at one point been transported by truck to arrive at its final destination.
While 90 percent of America is on lockdown and working from home, leaving their house only to retrieve essential supplies, truckers are working long hours to keep freight moving and to bring you what you need. As we know, if the trucking industry slows down, the world of retail, grocery, hospitals, and every other industry slows. Prior to the pandemic, most people likely didn’t give much thought to the trucking industry and just how essential it is to keep the world as we know it turning. Without truckers, no one gets their supplies.
Road trips are also proving to be more difficult for truckers, as dine-in areas are closed, rest stops are limiting what they provide, including shower facilities. Some rest stops have completely shut down as a result of people stealing the toilet paper. We are also trying to keep some supplies on hand for ourselves—essentials such hand sanitizer, gloves, toilet paper and disinfectant—while doing our best to self-quarantine on the road. If truckers come down with the current virus or any number of other illnesses, it is likely they will be hundreds of miles from home. unable to get back to their home to quarantine.
As a farmer and a truck driver I am able to follow products as they make their way from the farm to the hands of the customer, and can see firsthand how businesses are affected, to include the logistical challenges as they shift their manufacturing processes to better accommodate the needs of their customers, while an increasing number of customers are buying products to be shipped directly to their houses.
A big rig is literally a big responsibility, and safety is my No. 1 priority while I am on the road. As a female truck driver, I must be especially cognizant of my surroundings, not only on the road but at truck stops. My constant traveling companion is my M&P 2.0 paired with Winchester Ammunition Defender.
The next time you see a stocked shelf, thank a trucker. And if you see an empty shelf, rest assured we are on our way and have your back when times are tough. Together we will keep America rolling.
Be safe and stay healthy, everyone.
About the Author: Nikki Boxler grew up on a large dairy farm in western New York and continues to reside there today. This setting has shaped her love for the outdoors and is how she developed a passion that drives her to spend as much time as possible hunting and fishing. Nikki credits her father for introducing her to hunting while she was young. “One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with hunting was the camaraderie and the bond I experienced between fellow hunters. I vividly remember how special it was when we would all gather and grill venison after a successful day of hunting,” she says. Nikki balances her time in the outdoors between a full-time marketing job and helping on the family farm. With so much on her plate, she is sincerely grateful for her time to match wits with a big gobbler or on the water casting for Muskie. She enjoys all types of hunting and shooting sports from archery to skeet shooting, and hopes to inspire and educate youth to become more involved in the shooting sports.